Monument record MCC82 - St Runwald's Church, High Street, Colchester


Anglo-Saxon? and later church demolished in 1878.


Grid reference Centred TL 99622 25220 (18m by 12m)
Map sheet TL92NE
1848 Parish ST RUNWALD
County ESSEX


Type and Period (1)

Full Description

St Runwald's Church formerly occupied the island in the middle of the High Street (part of 'middle row') until its demolition in 1878. A number of photographs, drawings and plans survive.<1><2>

The church had a rectangular nave with opposing doorways and a square chancel. The dedication (the earliest 'St Runwald' is recorded in the 8th century) and thickness of the walls suggest (to Rodwell and Rodwell 1977) an Anglo-Saxon origin, and perhaps the location in the middle of the High Street. However, the church was 'Georgianised' during restoration of the structure in 1760 and much of the earlier detail was obscured.<3> There is (currently) no physical evidence to confirm an Anglo-Saxon origin. Gascoyne and Radford (2013, pp.196-7) tentatively suggest a late 9th century.<10>

The graveyard (MCC474) is situated at some distance from the church (c.40m to the north), on the corner of St Runwald's Street and West Stockwell Street (this is unique in the Diocese, although there are other examples across the country), although a grave was discovered in the High Street.<4>

A watching brief was carried out along the High Street during the installation of a gas main in 1927. The watching brief recorded several wall foundations and also burials on the site of St Runwald's Church and a succession of layers of gravel street metalling. Three north-south wall foundations were observed which were thought to form part of the same group observed by Hull (see ECC103). The foundations are thought to be medieval or post-medieval and one of them close to the line of the west boundary of 134 High Street was probably part of the east wall of St Runwald's Church.<5>

Drawing of St Runwald's Tower and Steeple from 1692.<6>

The Church of St Runwald's which stood on the High Street may have had Anglo-Saxon origin, however the earliest noted documentary record is 1254 when the patron was Margaret Baudechoun.<7>

Watercolour painting of St Runwald's interior.<8><9>

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Lithograph: Parish, Josiah. 1857. St Runwald's Church and Middle Row, Colchester.
  • <2> DRAWING - ELEVATION: Skarff, K. C.. 1932. St Runwald's Church, Colchester.
  • <3> Monograph: Rodwell, Warwick J with Rodwell, KA. 1977. Historic Churches: a wasting asset.
  • <4> Photograph: Unknown. 1965. Coffin found on site of St Runwalds, 1965. Black & White print.
  • <5> Monograph: Crummy, Philip. 1992. CAR 6: Excavations at Culver Street, the Gilberd School, and other sites in Colchester 1971-85. 6. p.101.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Various. Social History File: St Runwald's.
  • <7> Article in serial: Benfield, Stephen and Garrod, Simon. 1992. Two recently-discovered Roman buildings in Colchester. Essex Archaeology and History Vol. 23, 25-38. p.161.
  • <8> COLLECTION / PARENT: Benham, Mary. 1918. Collection of works by Mary Benham. A1 3 A14.
  • <9> COLLECTION / PARENT: Benham, Mary. 1918. Collection of works by Mary Benham. COLEM 1967.70.11 A13 3A.
  • <10> Monograph: Gascoyne, Adrian and Radford, David. 2013. Colchester. Fortress of the War God. An Archaeological Assessment. pp.196-197.

Finds (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (14)

Record last edited

Apr 21 2020 7:56AM

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