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 A history of the parish 


Burnaston was believed to be founded at the same time as
Etwall & Bearwardcote between 450 and 550 AD, within 50 to 150 years of the Romans leaving Britain, by Angles & Saxons who sailed up the River Trent and settled in the area.

By the time of the Norman Invasion in 1066, the area is lightly wooded and is probably the most settled and prosperous in Derbyshire with rich farmland.

The name Burnaston is derived from ‘the farm of Brunwulf' and is probably Mercian in origin, although there is a possibility that the name is what is known as a “Grimston hybrid”, ie., a later Viking personal name combined with an Anglo-Saxon element (-ton); these names are thought to represent English villages that were acquired by Scandinavian settlers but perhaps remained outside direct Scandinavian control.

The A38 was originally called Rykneld Street and was built by the Romans in the 1st or 2nd century AD connecting Bourton on the Water (near Cirencester) with Lichfield, Little Chester (near Derby) and on to Aldborough in Yorkshire. As recently as 1798, traces of a considerable length of this road were still visible on Egginton Common but was obliterated when the turnpike was built.

Burnaston is first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Bernulfestun and reference is made to the reduction in value of the manors of Etwall, Burnaston & Bearwardcote since 1066 (an uprising in the north of England, including South Derbyshire, against the Normans in 1069 was brutally put down and whole areas were laid waste. Houses & crops were burnt, livestock killed & equipment destroyed and thousands of people were massacred or died of starvation. All the English lords lost their lands and were replaced by French barons & churchmen). The population in 1086 is thought to be around 45.

After the conquest William gave Burnaston, along with Etwall & Bearwardcote and 41 other manors in Derbyshire, to Henry de Ferrer.

William gave parcels of land to the barons & knights who had supported him and in return, each baron was expected to maintain a small army of soldiers which the king could call on if he needed them and to pay one tenth of his manorial revenue each year.

The barons then let out their manors to lesser lords or knights on similar terms so that they were assured of troops & money when required.

The lowest were the serfs who belonged to their lord and tilled his land for him. They were not free men and could not even leave their manor without consent. Sometimes they were given or bought their freedom and, in return for their labour, were given land to cultivate for themselves and the right to keep a certain amount of livestock on the Common land. Their rent was paid as labour to their lord.

To survive, this had to be an economic unit comprising of a number of houses, strips of arable land, pasture & waste or common. They had to be self supporting. It was also a social and administrative unit which, when well managed, was an efficient & democratic community.

In the field north of Park Farm is what appears to be a huge man-made earthen mound. According to a report by S. Malone of SDCC Reconnaissance in 1994, it is a complex of medieval earthworks dated 1066 AD to 1539AD, consisting of a hollow way, two building platforms, area of ridge & furrow and, at the southern end of the field, a quarry of unknown date, probably 1540 AD to 1900AD. (Park Farm is actually built in this quarry). The building platforms suggest that some of the settlement area was abandoned at some point. Another school of thought is that the mound is a prehistoric hill fort, over two thousand years old.

Burnaston was known by a variety of names including Brunolveston in 1250, Brunufyston in the late 13thcentury, Brunnaldiston in 1291, Brunastone in 1330 and Byrnaston in 1474.


There was one battle at Egginton Heath in 1644 & a few skirmishes in the area during the Civil War, notably at Tutbury & Ashe, but Burnaston is mentioned only once in 1646 when the ‘Committee for Plundered Ministers' ordered the confiscation of certain tithes from Burnaston & Bearwardcote amounting to £30 to be paid to the Minister of St Werbergh's of Derby – this was ‘for more ease of maintenance of the Minister' and was presumably a punishment for the lord of the manor for supporting the King. Recusants (those who remained catholic) were hated & harassed even after the restoration of Charles II in 1682 and among those reported were Henry Cantrill & his wife Grace, both of Burnaston.

According to William Woolley c1710-15, Burnaston was “a hamlet in Etwall parish and about a mile south-eastwards. It stands on high ground adjoining to Egginton Heath and a good part lying on the south side. It is but indifferent land. In the doomsday Book, it was called Burnasestone and was part of lands held by Henry de Ferrers, held by Gamel. 25 Edward I (this means the 25th year of Edward 1's reign) it was the land of Ralph Bakepaire, held by William de Henmore. 24 Henry VIII Ralph Bonnington left it to his son Francis who died 4 Edward VI and left it to his son William. In 2 Elizabeth, he died and left it to his son Francis. The royalty was in Sir Samuel Sleigh's of Etwall and now in his grandson Samuel Cheetham, but the land most freeholders”.

In 1789, according to James Pilkington, “Burnaleston had 32 houses”.

By the late 1700s and early 1800s, Burnaston is described as an attractive farming community of just over 100 inhabitants. The A38 and A516 were toll roads and most of the other roads & lanes at this time match the modern network with only a few changes, such as Bannels Lane which linked through to the A38 and there was at least one lane connecting Green Lane with Willington Road.


Some of these roads & lanes had been just tracks across the Heath land (which stretched from Green Lane, near present day Toyota, right down past Willington Road to near Egginton) prior to The Enclosure Acts of 1797/8 but were established as roads along straight lines helping to divide the land there into a pattern of fields of around 4 acres each.

In the middle ages, the open fields had been cultivated communally in strips and areas of meadow & common land were shared. From the 14th century, the open fields were gradually enclosed into hedged fields by individual farmers and the process was completed following the Parliamentary Enclosure Act when the remainder of the open land was enclosed. The Act required that the distribution of the ‘new' fields should be proportionate to the historic rights of the individual, so grazing one cow and cutting furze on the common might equate to a certain area of land.

The new owners of the fields had to fence their land as soon as possible, and it is around this time that many of the hawthorn hedges were planted.

Instead of farm houses & buildings being crowded together in village streets, it now made economic sense to build new farmsteads on the newly formed blocks of land. Manor Farm, Top Farm, Park Farm, Walnuts Farm (or Wilders Farm) and Bottom Farm (The Lawns) all date from before 1800, ‘from prosperous times of agriculture when labour was cheap'.

Interestingly, several fields around Burnaston still show the typical ridge & furrow method of ploughing from the medieval period. This method improved drainage and also increased the surface area for planting.

A certain Frederick William Fairholt, FSA, visited Derbyshire in 1835. From Derby, he walked through Mickleover and then “turned off through a land which commanded a fine view over the country with the Peak Hills in the distance. The road now sank down to some fields and, crossing them, we passed another quiet little village, entirely composed of antique houses and cottages, the red brick peeping through the decaying plaster, the brown oak timber and green moss about it contributing to make a pretty picture each time”.

This was, of course, Burnaston approached from the Pastures.

"A still winding lane, with a rich growth of blackberries and shrubs and hedge flowers, and bounded and overarched with tall trees, sheltered us from the sun and led us to Etwall, a pretty village with an antique church quite hidden from the road which passes close to the wall by trees. After resting at a public house opposite, we again took to the road".

Mr F. Fisher commenting on the above during the 1950s, remarked that his memory of Burnaston 30 years before accorded perfectly with the description. The old cottages on the Green, thatched and timbered, contained old fireplaces and rickety stairs leading to upstairs rooms where the ceiling was the roof of the cottage. Stone floors, hard earth in the larder, water drawn from the pump on the Green. “A weekend spent in the cottage my family had there was indeed then to be isolated from the world”.

Around 1833, Burnaston had a Day School with 9 pupils and a Sunday School with 13 pupils.

In the 1890s, Burnaston had a lending library. It is recorded in Kelly's Directory for 1899 that a Miss Crewe had a lending library of over 500 volumes which she lent to parishioners. (A Miss Crewe was living in The Old Hall in July 1876).

During the mid to late 1800s, Burnaston supported a wide range of trades over and above all the farming related jobs. They included gamekeeper, blacksmiths, baker, butcher, joiner, plumber & decorator, scrap iron merchant, shoemaker, molecatcher, dressmakers, cooper, wheelwright, pudler(from the steel industry, he ‘puddled' the molten metal), landlords of public houses, post messenger, school teachers and laundress.

Into the 1900s and many of these trades have gone but we still have a butcher (although the shop is in Etwall), 3 shops, landlord of a single public house, wheelwright, molecatcher and garage.

By the mid to late 1900s, there is still the garage but everything else has gone.

After the arrival of the railway in the 1820s and 1830s, Derbyshire became renowned for the ‘export' of cheese and milk to London and the rest of the country. Once Etwall had its rail connection in 1878 and the station, which was built shortly afterwards, local farmers were able to share the same benefits.

Manor Farm sent milk on the overnight trains to London via the GNR and Top Farm supplied milk to the Etwall Cheese Factory on Heage Lane (on the Seven Wells pub site). By the 1930s Egginton Dairy, at Egginton Junction and which eventually became part of Unigate Dairies, was open and collecting milk from local farms including Millway Farm.

In the 1920s for a few years, there was a private school at Walnuts Farm, possibly run by one of the Smedley's daughters & many of the pupils names were scratched on some of the window panes in the property (these are now gone following a violent hailstorm in July 1975).

The Ivies also had windows with names scratched on them, probably from the late 1800s or early 1900s. These may still exist.

Originally, Burnaston had been a small collection of farms & cottages centred around the village green, or The Bank. The village green disappeared in the 1960s when the cottages around it were demolished and Wonersh and Danecastre were built. The field names Mill Close and Millway Close suggest that a windmill stood at the top of the hill opposite Manor Farm.

By 1992, Burnaston is a small hamlet of about 200 people. Around the turn of the century, Burnaston had 8 large working farms, 2 big houses (the Old Hall and Burnaston House), 15 small cottages (one of which was the village shop) and a small chapel. In 1992, there are only 4 farms, no chapel (it is now the village hall), no hostelry and no shops.

What is now the village hall was originally the Mission Room and was given to the village by a local farmer, Mr Stone. Services were conducted twice a month on Sunday afternoon by the vicar from Etwall. A local resident played the organ in both parishes and a member of her family recalls the wonderful Harvest Festival services which were held at Burnaston, with produce afterwards being taken to the Children's Hospital in Derby. The village hall is very small and is mainly used today for parish meetings and the Burnaston Women's Institute as well as private parties and various classes such as flower arranging, art & computers.


The village green no longer exists, but it was originally circled by four cottages; it was a regular meeting place for the young men of the village, who congregated in a little wooden hut where a Mrs Wootton allowed them to play cards by candlelight. The village green also used to have an old stone trough and a water pump which were in regular use right up to the early 1970s, before two houses were built and the village green disappeared.

Before the Second World War, Burnaston was mostly a farming community and the majority of the population did not go out of the area to seek work. Even today the village is without pavements or street lighting, making it still a small rural community.

Until shortly after the Second World War, the only shop was in a small cottage at the corner of Tinderbox Lane. It was run for many years by a little old lady who used to sit behind the counter, in candlelight, waiting for her customers. Legend has it that the name Tinderbox Lane was derived from locals picking up flint in the area to fill their tinderboxes.


Extracts taken from The Etwall Heritage by JB Henderson & EP Robinson, Etwall a Portrait of a Derbyshire Village by Arthur Smith, and Etwall by Arthur Smith.

The information above has been researched and supplied by Mick Gray

Mickleover Country Park


Situated within the Parish boundary, the pleasant residential development of Mickleover Country Park lies approximately one mile to the North East of Burnaston village across open fields. Local residents refer to the estate as ‘Pastures’ because it is built on the site of the former Pastures Hospital, which opened there in 1851 to treat patients with mental health problems. The hospital successfully espoused a vastly more humane and compassionate approach to the treatment of mental illness than that which was prevalent at the time. Building on this enlightened philosophy the hospital developed and expanded until its heyday in the 1940’s and 50’s. The hospital closed in 1993.

The then Trent Regional Health Authority sought outline planning permission in 1995 for the redevelopment of the hospital site for housing and/or business development in the original buildings. The planning application was approved in 1997.At that time an extensive tree preservation order was placed on the majority of the trees on the site thereby ensuring that as many as possible would be retained to provide a setting for the site’s development.

The site was then purchased from the Health Authority by a consortium made up of Redrow Homes and McLean Homes. Investigation of the original buildings revealed that some were unsuitable for conversion and permission was subsequently granted for their replacement with a range of new dwellings that reflected the form of the buildings they replaced. The one retained building was converted to residential use and stands as a reminder of the former use of the site.

To the South and East the Mickleover Country Park development is bordered by a nine-hole golf course and the playing fields of the Mickleover Country Park Social Club whose private grounds host thriving soccer, archery and bowls clubs.

"Extracts taken from "The Etwall Heritage" by JB Hudson and EP Robinson,
"Etwall a Portrait of a Derbyshire Village" by Arthur Smith and "Etwall" by Arthur Smith.

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