Poplars Farm and Flemings Farm, Runwell.
My brother-in-law, Tom, worked here when he left school. It was a mixed farm with cows, horses and sheep, also growing mixed crops: wheat, oats, etc. The farm was on both sides off Warren Road. In the school holidays my husband, Henry, and his brother John kept watch over the sheep. These were set loose onto the cornfield as the corn was just shooting; they nibbled these off and later two new shoots appeared, increasing the yield at harvest time.
Warren Road was on the northern boundary of the Runwell Parish before the boundaries were changed in the 1960s. This ran down to Chalk Street and Hoe Lane, and because the roads were so bad a Chapel of Ease was built in Chalk Street so that the parishioners didn’t have to attend St. Mary’s Church in Runwell Road. There is still a footpath from Poplars Farm down through the fields coming out onto the Runwell Road by the Quart Pot. At the top end of the footpath near the farm this opens out into a wide avenue of oak trees on either side.
Poplars Farm is thought to have been the site of a nunnery at sometime, as records state Robert Durden, who was vicar of Runwell between 1604 and 1628, visited the Prioress, who was in her ninetieth year. No sign of this remains and it is thought it may have been destroyed by Henry VIII’s men.
Into the northern wall of Runwell Church is a stone tomb and on the lid is the sign known as the Runwell Cross. This consists of four circles inside a diamond shape. This sign is included in the village sign on the corner of Church End Lane, South Hanningfield Way and Meadow Lane, previously known as footpath to Warren Road. The tomb was opened in the early 1900s but was empty. It is suggested this may have been robbed during the Civil War.
There is a spring on Poplars Farm that has been mentioned by many different historians saying this has never been known to dry up. The Chapman and Andre map of Runwell shows the area of Poplars Farm marked “Palace”.
In 1769 Mr Swan Tabrum was listed as the owner. This was then bought in 1824 by Thomas Nash Kemble, as part of the Runwell Hall Estate, and remained in the Kemble family until 1924 when the estate was auctioned off.
1929, Percy Nicholls was the owner, the property passing to the Executors of his estate in 1933.
In 1937 Ron Smith farmed Poplars, and also ran the local Post Office and General Store opposite the Old Windmill public house.
This farm was also part of North Runwell, situated in Warren Road. Robert Fleming was first mentioned in 1327 and his house is thought to have been destroyed by fire.
In 1464 one of the daughters in the family married Edward Sulyard, a Justice of the King’s Bench in Henry VIII’s reign, and who was a member of an old Suffolk family. The Sulyard family have many memorials in Runwell Church.
The farm passed down through marriage to Sir John Tyrrell, a well known Essex family. I think this was auctioned off about 1914 according to a sale catalogue in the Essex Record Office.
On the tithe map dated 10th June 1845, Sir John Tyrrell was the owner of Moorgarden and Scrub Wood.