Portland stone chest tomb, c.1848.
Reason for Listing
The tomb of Sir George de Lacy Evans is recommended for listing at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Design interest: a large and boldly sculptural Neoclassical tomb with fine relief carving;
* Historic interest: commemorates a distinguished Victorian army commander and radical politician;
* Group value: prominently located on the Inner Circle at the Grade I registered Kensal Green Cemetery, and has group value with nearby listed monuments.
Sir George de Lacy Evans (1787-1870) was a career soldier who served with distinction in most of the important campaigns of the first half of the C19. Born into a gentry family in County Limerick, he trained at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich before volunteering in the Indian army in 1806. Noted for his daring and extreme physical courage, he served in Spain under Wellington (1812-14), in the Anglo-American War (1814-15) and at the battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo (1815). In the 1830s Evans went into radical politics as MP first for Rye and then for Westminster, where he supported electoral reform, the repeal of the Corn Laws and the abolition of slavery and military flogging. A poor orator, his parliamentary career did not flourish, and in 1835 he returned to the field as commander of the 10,000-strong ‘British Legion’, a volunteer force raised to support the liberal faction under the Regent Maria Christina against the reactionary insurrection of the Infante Carlos. Evans was decorated for his bravery, but received scant military support from the Spanish, and returned to London after two years. His service in the Crimea in 1853-5, where he commanded the British 2nd division, made him a national hero, but his later career at Westminster was no more successful than at first, and he retired from public life in 1865.
The Cemetery of All Souls at Kensal Green was the earliest of the large privately-run cemeteries established on the fringes of London to relieve pressure on overcrowded urban churchyards. Its founder George Frederick Carden intended it as an English counterpart to the great Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, which he had visited in 1821. In 1830, with the financial backing of the banker Sir John Dean Paul, Carden established the General Cemetery Company, and two years later an Act of Parliament was obtained to develop a 55-acre site at Kensal Green, then among open fields to the west of the metropolis. An architectural competition was held, but the winning entry – a Gothic scheme by HE Kendall – fell foul of Sir John's classicising tastes, and the surveyor John Griffith of Finsbury was eventually employed both to lay out the grounds and to design the Greek Revival chapels, entrance arch and catacombs, which were built between 1834 and 1837. A sequence of royal burials, beginning in 1843 with that of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, ensured the cemetery’s popularity. It is still administered by the General Cemetery Company, assisted since 1989 by the Friends of Kensal Green.
An enormous Portland stone chest tomb, about 6 feet in height, on a two-stage stepped base. The chest itself has battered sides with channelled quoins and a dentil cornice, and the top is curved with a segmental pediment at each end. The eastern end panel has two coats of arms carved in low relief with borders of foliage and militaria; beneath are Evans’s various military decorations and a scroll inscribed ‘España Agradecida’ (‘Spain is grateful’). In the tympanum above is a fortified tower, perhaps for Castile.
Evans’s inscription reads: ‘Here lie the remains of General Sir de Lacy Evans, GCB, Colonel of the 21st Royal North British Fusiliers b. 1787 d. 1870. He commenced his career in India, fought under Wellington in the Peninsula and south of France, served with distinction in America, was engaged at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, commanded with marked ability the British Legion in the service of Spain, and in old age nobly led the second British division in the Crimea. During thirty years he was member of parliament for the City of Westminster. An enterprising and shrewd commander, an incorruptible politician, his comrades mourn the chivalrous soldier and many friends affectionately cherish his memory.’
Other inscriptions commemorate Evans’s wife Josette (d.1861) and Major General Richard L Evans (d.1848).
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.