The following is taken from Revd. Alfred Suckling’s book, ‘Memorials of the antiquities and architecture, family history and heraldry of the County of Essex’ (John Weale, London, 1845).
Runwell is a rectory, valued in the king’s books at £13 per annum, of which the yearly tenths are fixed at £1 6s. The church is a regular structure, comprising a nave, chancel, and two aisles, with a square tower containing four bells.
In the chancel is the following inscription in old English characters:-
1 Here doe lie Ewstace Sulyard, Esquier, and Margarett Ayloff, sometime his wyfe, who had to her first husbande Gregory Ballet, Esquier, by whome she had yssue Dorothie, her only daughter and heyer, arid now wyfe unto Anthonie Maxey, Esquier; and to her second husband she had the sayd Ewstace Sulyard, between whome they had yssue Edward Sulyard, Esquier, their sonne and heyer, and Mary, Margaret, Jane, Anne, and Bridget, their daughters; and to her thirde and last husbande she had William Ayloff; of Brittens, Esquier, by whome she had no yssue; which said Ewstace Sulyard died in Februarie, in the first yeare of King Edwarde the Sixte, and the said Margaret died the fifte of Februarie in the ix and twentyeth yeare of our soueragne queene Elizabeth.
Occupying a most beautiful situation, about a mile and a half from the church stands the remains of
The gable represented is nearly all that a destructive fire has left of this spacious edifice, which, in its original state, must have been a truly noble and extensive building. It derives its name from the family of Flernyng, who possessed a lordship so called from a very early period; this manor, however, passed by marriage to the Sulyards, whose arms, quartered, remain in the centre compartment of the lower window to the present time. And to the Sulyards, and not to the Flemyngs, I should ascribe the building of the existing mansion, as both the style of architecture and the armorial bearings would indicate. The house and estate remained long with their descendants, and now form part of the possessions of Sir John Tyrrell of Boreham House, near Chelmsford; but by what tenure or transfer the Tyrrells obtained it I have not been informed.
The original structure in its entire state, like all large mansions of that period, inclosed a court-yard, and was defended by a deep moat. Considerable remains of the latter are visible, strengthened still further by a lofty embankment of earth on the inner side.
Above one hundred spacious apartments, and a large chapel, finely vaulted with stone, were contained in this quadrangle; while the interior fittings corresponded with such magnificence, stained glass in great profusion, tapestry, that favourite ornament of our ancestors, and paintings, by eminent masters, sparkled in the windows and adorned the walls. Many of these decorations have been removed by the Tyrrells, and are said to enrich the apartments of their present residence.
External proofs of the same noble feeling are not wanting at Flemyng’s. The beauties of nature (who wantons here in her most luxuriant garb) were assisted by the hand of art, and an extensive park, fine canals, a large warren, and delightful woods, must have rendered this residence one of the most attractive spots in the neighbourhood of the metropolis; and it is difficult to account how fashion should have so far overcome taste as to compel the latter to abandon Flemyng’s Hall to neglect and dilapidation.