Guy Chester Centre
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (August 2009)|
The Guy Chester Centre is a large estate of the Methodist Church of Great Britain in Muswell Hill, in north London. The centre plays an important role in north London as a place of residence for young and elderly people, Christian conference centre and community centre.
The estate is located in Muswell Hill and occupies it is home to a large youth hostel (Chester House Halls of Residence), a Methodist church and an adjacent house used by the church members and other local community organizations for social activities, the Guy Chester Centre (conference centre), a tennis club (Muswell Hill Methodist Lawn Tennis Club), two old folks' homes (The Meadow and the Paddock) and Hazlehyrst (the vicarage with several small rooms for workshops and meetings and a library).
The North Bank Estate
The North Bank Estate takes its name from a large old house with extensive grounds, which was purchased by H Guy Chester O.B.E. in 1924. Mr Chester and his family lived in Hazlehyrst, an Edwardian villa on Colney Hatch Lane, which is also still part of the grounds.
In 1932, an extensive programme of alterations and redecoration was carried out to the house called North Bank and it was then placed at the disposal of the local Methodist church. On his sixtieth birthday, in February 1947, Mr Chester handed over the whole estate to the national Methodist Church. The estate was again extended in 1960 and presently covers around 12 acres (49,000 m2) including housing for MHA.
For many years Guy Chester had "looked forward to a time when it might be possible to build a residential centre for young men and women who were either studying or working in London." The need to find new premises for the Methodist Youth Department (MYD) led to a committee being set up in 1955 which agreed that a joint project "was not only feasible but also desirable." Guy Chester donated the site and the first £50,000. It opened in 1960 and was named Chester House (without his prior knowledge).
The Guy Chester Centre
In 2000 MYD relocated to Marylebone Road, and the decision was made to use the space vacated to provide more bedrooms for the Halls of Residence and to create a Conference Centre and Retreat House. With the approval of Mr Chester's family, the entire work of the estate was given the title of the Guy Chester Centre.
One of the remarkable features of the estate is its large grounds, which include both formal gardens, lawns, ponds and a wood. Wild fauna includes foxes, rabbits, ducks. Grounds are accessible till 4pm. They are included in the Quiet Garden Trust.