Of all the curiosities in High Barnet, perhaps the one which evokes the greatest pleasure is a collection of intricate tiny houses which decorate a tree stump in St Albans Road.
Passing motorists would probably miss them, but pedestrians on the pavement between the Army Reserve Centre and Christ Church are in for a surprise when they catch sight of the tree houses.
They are the treasured possession of Sue Brown, who has lived in St Albans Road for 25 years, and whose brother Steve Tremain designed and installed the tiny miniature homes in 2019.
“Within a week of him completing all these intricate little models and fixing them to the tree stump we had a coachload of Japanese tourists stopping to see them,” said Sue.
Photographs of Sue’s collection of tree houses appear frequently on websites which track and promote London’s oddities and hidden gems.
Her project in the coming weeks, once the weather improves, is to carry out an inspection and refurbishment of her brother’s minute handiwork.
“Some of the roof tiles and steps need repairing. One of the little staircases has broken away. Once I get going, I am sure there will be lots of other restoration work I can do.”
“My brother Steve was so imaginative, and his handiwork provides so much joy to children and folk walking along St Albans Road.
“Hardly a day goes by without someone stopping to take a photograph.”
Creating the little houses was an afterthought and came about almost by accident when branches started falling off the large tree in the front garden, just beside the footpath.
When the tree had to be reduced in size, it was found to be hollow in the middle and Sue’s brother, who was a master builder, suggested it should be capped with lead.
“We were left with a big stump which Steve began to decorate with these tiny houses. Once he started, he kept going and over the years they have brought so much joy to everyone.
“The tree used to grow back with leaves on some of the small branches which added to its appeal, but unfortunately all the foliage was killed in last year’s late frost.”
Until she retired, Sue was a motor vehicle repairer and restorer, so is well used to intricate metal work and is looking forward to the challenge of sprucing up her much-admired curiosity.