An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Essex, Volume 4, South east. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1923.
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76. RUNWELL. (D.c.)
(O.S. 6in. (a)lxi. S.W. (b)lxix. N.W.)
Runwell is a parish about 5 m. E. of Billericay. The church and Fleming's Farm are the principal monuments.
b(1). Parish Church of St. Mary stands in the S.W. angle of the parish. The walls are of ragstone-rubble, with some pudding-stone, brick and flint; the dressings are of limestone; the roofs are tiled. The S. arcade of the Nave is of c. 1200, but the rest of the church, including the N. wall of the nave, the South Aisle, North and South Porches and West Tower, were built or re-built during the course of the 15th century. The church has been restored in modern times, when the Chancel was re-built and extended towards the E. and the South Vestry added.
The timber N. and S. porches are interesting.
Architectural Description—The Chancel is modern, but re-set in the E. wall is a 15th-century window of three trefoiled lights in a four-centred head with a moulded label. Re-set in the N. wall are two 15th-century windows, each of two trefoiled lights in a square head with a moulded label. In the S. wall, E. of the nave-arcade is a 15th or early 16th-century squint with a square head.
The Nave (37¾ ft. by 15½ ft.) has in the N. wall two 15th-century windows, both of two cinque-foiled lights in a square head with a moulded label; between them is the 15th-century N. doorway, with chamfered jambs, two-centred arch and moulded label; below the western window is a rough segmental-pointed relieving-arch. The S. arcade is of early 13th-century date, and of four bays with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders; the columns are cylindrical, with moulded capitals and bases, and the square chamfered responds have chamfered imposts; the arcade shows evidence of reconstruction, the second column being out of place.
The South Aisle (9 ft. wide) has a modern opening in the E. wall, and above it is a modern window with re-used 15th-century stones. In the S. wall are two windows similar to those in the N. wall of the nave; between them is the 15th-century S. doorway, with chamfered jambs and two-centred arch.
The West Tower (11 ft. by 12¼ ft.) is of the 15th century, and of three stages with an embattled parapet, an embattled turret rising above the S.E. angle and a short shingled spire (Plate, pp. xxxii-iii). The two-centred tower-arch is of three hollow-chamfered orders; the two outer die on to the splayed responds and the inner rests on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The W. window is of the 14th century, re-set, and of three cinque-foiled lights with intersecting tracery in a two-centred head with a moulded label; the W. doorway has moulded jambs, two-centred arch and label. The second stage has in, each wall a window of one trefoiled light with a square moulded label. The bell-chamber has in each wall a window of two lights in a square head with a moulded label; the heads of the lights on the E. and W. are cinque-foiled, and of those on the N. and S. trefoiled.
The North Porch (Plate, p. xxxix) is of late 15th-century date, timber-framed, and of two bays on dwarf brick walls. The three - centred outer archway has spandrels carved with foliage and the name in black-letter Iohes Okashott; flanking it are two bays with cinque-foiled and traceried heads; above the cross-beam in the gable is a king-post, carved on the face with a shallow panel and a rosette. The side walls have each six open lights with traceried heads similar to those flanking the entrance; those on the E. are modern restorations. The roof has a middle king-post truss with curved braces springing from moulded and carved brackets and a central foliated boss.
The South Porch (Plate, p. xxxix) is of similar date and construction to the N. porch, but rests on a plinth of stone and flint. The four-centred outer archway is flanked by open lights with cinque-foiled ogee heads and tracery; the moulded cross-beam supports a king-post with a pointed niche cut in the outer face. The side walls have each six lights similar to those flanking the entrance, but the heads on the W. side and three of those on the E. are modern. The middle king-post truss has curved braces forming a four-centred arch; the wall-plates are moulded.
The Roof of the nave incorporates some old timbers; that of the S. aisle is probably of the 15th-century partly restored; it has braced collar-beams forming round arches and a moulded wall-plate on the S. side. The spire is a timber-framed construction of the 15th century.
Fittings—Bells: four—1st, 2nd and 3rd by Robert Mot, 1591. Brass and Indent. Brass: see Monuments (1). Indent: In tower—of inscription-plate and two shields. Coffin-lids: In chancel—(1) of Purbeck marble with double hollow-chamfered edge and raised ornamental cross, 13th-century. In S. porch—(2) tapering slab of Purbeck marble. Sawn up and used in plinths of S.W. buttresses of aisle—(3) two with moulded edges. Doors: In S. doorway—of nail-studded battens with strap-hinges, 15th-century. In tower—in doorway to turret, with strap-hinges, 15th-century. Font: octagonal bowl with moulded under-side, plain stem and modern base, 15th-century; old base now in Rectory garden. Glass: In vestry—in E. window, two roses, two whole and two half quarries with ornamental design and a border of leafage and coloured glass, 15th-century. In S. aisle—in E. window, fragments of foliage and border and four roundels of coloured glass, 13th or 14th-century. Monuments and Floor-slab: Monuments: In chancel—on N wall— (1) of Eustace Sulyard, 1547, and Margaret, his wife, 1587, tablet with side pilasters and pediment, on slat)—brasses of man in plate-armour and woman in ruff, etc., kneeling at prayer-desk and three shields-of-arms; on S. wall—(2) to Edward Sulyard, 1692, white marble tablet with achievement-of-arms Floor-slab: In tower—to Thomas Sulyard, 1634, with shield-of-arms. Piscinae: In S. aisle—in S. wall, with chamfered jambs and square head, round drain, 15th-century; further W. similar, 15th-century, re-set. Plate (Plate, p. xliv): includes cup of 1562, with band of engraved ornament, and cover-paten of the same date. Poor-box: In nave—of oak hollowed out, with slotted iron plate in top, iron-bound lid and four iron discs nailed on, 15th or 16th-century. Scratchings: On tower-arch and splays of windows in second stage of tower, various masons' marks. Stoup: In N. porch—with round bowl, cut back, probably 15th-century. Sundial: On W. jamb of S. doorway—scratched sundial, stone re-set.
Condition—Good, except tower.
b(2). Fleming's Farm, house and outbuildings, 1½ m. N.N.W. of the church. The House is a fragment of a much larger house of late 16th or early 17th-century date (said to have been destroyed by fire), and is of two storeys with attics; the walls are of brick and the roofs are tiled. It is rectangular on plan, with a large rectangular bay projecting on the N.W. front, and has a modern extension on the S.W. and a smaller addition on the N.E. On the N.W. Elevation (Plate, p. 132) the projecting bay is gabled and has a moulded coping with pointed finials on moulded bases at the apex and on the kneelers. Lighting the ground-floor is a five-light window with a single-light window on the return; both have moulded heads, jambs, mullions and transom. The first floor has a large window of similar detail but with two transoms, and a single-light window on both returns. The N.E. Elevation has two gables, the N. one of which is similar to the gable just described but with a modern coping. The chimney-stack is original and has three diagonal shafts with oversailing tops.
Inside the building, the front room on the ground-floor (now the kitchen) has two moulded ceiling-beams, and some of the beams in the ceiling and the timber-framing in the walls of the back room are exposed. In the window to the kitchen is some 16th-century glass, with a mutilated cartouche of the arms of Sulyard and pieces of ruby, yellow, brown, blue and white glass, some in the form of foliage. The staircase has some original panelling on both the ground and first floors, and in the room above the kitchen is a stone fireplace with a moulded, four-centred head and jambs. In the attic is an original fireplace with a square head.
The Outbuilding stands to the N. of and is of about the same date as the house. It is of one storey, built of brick and rectangular on plan and has a two-centred doorway and a three-light square-headed window with moulded head, jambs, transom and mullions. The door is of four panels with moulded and nailed-studded framing.
Condition—Of house, good.
a(3). Gifford's Farm (Plate, pp. xxxiv-v), about 1½m. N. of the church, is of two storeys, timber-framed and plastered, with tiled roofs. It was built in the 16th century on a T-shaped plan, with cross-wing at the N. end, but the roof of the S. wing has been raised and both wings have small modern additions. The upper storey of the cross-wing projects on the E. front; it is supported on curved brackets, and has below a slightly projecting bay-window of four lights with diamond-shaped mullions. On the N. front is a blocked window of three lights with diamond-shaped mullions, and an original chimney-stack; in the W. end of the S. wall of the cross-wing is a blocked window similar to the one in the N. wall. Inside the building some of the rooms have exposed ceiling-beams. The roof over the N. wing has a queenpost truss, with curved braces to the tie-beam and curved wind-braces.
b(4). Church End, house (Plate, pp.xl-i),600 yards N.W. of the church, is of two storeys with attics, timber-framed and plastered; the roofs are tiled. It was built in the 17th century on an L-shaped plan with the wings extending towards the N.W. and S.W.; the additions on the back and side are modern. On the N.E. side is an original chimney-stack, the top of which has been re-built. Inside the building some of the rooms have exposed ceiling-beams.