Evington Park History
The village of Evington dates back to Anglo-Saxon times and was originally known as Aefa’s Tun. This later became Avintone and finally Evington.
It is possible that there was a Roman cemetery on the Evington Park site particularly as there were Roman settlements along the nearby.
The land on which Evington House stands was given to Hugh de Grentesmesnil after the Norman Conquest who used it as a deer park. The land was then owned or leased by various royal privies and noblemen including John of Gaunt, Simon de Montfort and the Dukes of Devonshire. In 1735 Dr James Sherard who came originally from Bushby, bought the estate from the Dukes of Devonshire. He was a famous botanist and physician.
In 1770, Anna Edwyn married Andrew Burnaby. Anna was the heiress to Baggrave Hall at Hungarton in Leicestershire and of other properties including Evington, which she inherited from her great-uncle Dr Sherard through her mother Mary.
Andrew Burnaby was born in Asfordby in Leicestershire and in 1769 he was presented with the living of Greenwich. It would seem that Anna and Andrew lived in Greenwich until they took up residence at Baggrave Hall. It was their third son, Colonel John Burnaby who built Evington House.
In 1798 John Burnaby married Miss Henry Anne Fowke of Lowesby Hall, Leicestershire and they had eleven children. On his retirement Colonel John came into possession, under lease, of the Evington portion of his mother’s dowry. He built Evington House in 1836 as a retirement home for himself, his wife and their unmarried daughters.
John Burnaby died 1852, he was buried in the churchyard of St Denys, Evington. His daughters Miss Henry and Miss Ann installed a large memorial window in the Chancel of St Denys Church with two small windows, commemoration their own lives. They also endowed some pews and a lectern in the church. There is also a memorial for Dr James Sherard.
Miss Henry and Miss Ann lived on until the 1880's, they took an interest in the village and donating a harmonium to the school, which Colonel John had build in 1841 at his own expense. Every summer they would entertain the children with a "tea- drinking" in the ground of Evington House.
The Burnaby family have connections with another Leicester park. In 1885, Mr Charles Sherard Burnaby (1812-1891), Colonel John's youngest son, brother of Miss Ann and Miss Henry; sold the Leicester Corporation land that later became Spinney Hill park.
The war years
After the death of Miss Henry Burnaby in 1888, Evington house was let on a succession of short leases. In 1902, John Dearden of Dorset bought Evington House from the Burnaby's. During the First World War it was used as an auxiliary hospital. It was sold for £6000 in 1919 to Frank Pochin, a Leicester manufacturer. Mrs Pochin continued the interest in the village school; she was on the board of governors and presented the annual prizes.
In 1931 Evington House was sold to Tom Trevor Sawday; an architect and son-in-law of Arthur Wakerly. During WW2 Evington House was the headquarters of the Evington Home Guard Platoon, with Mr Sawday, a co-founder of the Leicester Aero Club, as second command. During this time the house one 'near miss' and one accidental 'direct hit'.
On November 20 1940, one of the string bombs fell on what are now cricket pitches.
The park today
The Leicester corporation purchased the estate in June 1947 from the Sawday family; it was later opened as a public park at Whitsun 1948.