History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
Shortly after the Norman conquest of south Wales this small stone chapel was built to serve the village of Runston. The village may have existed as early as the 10th century. It was never very large, reaching its maximum size of about 25 buildings in the medieval period. These buildings were laid out along several trackways near a village green, and what may have been a manor house.
Though it survived the Middle Ages, Runston village gradually lost its population, and by the 18th century only a few residents remained. The landlord seems to have allowed the buildings to decay in order to get rid of illegal tenants! If that was his strategy, it worked, for both church and village were in ruins by the end of the century. The village is now recognisable as bumps in the field beside the chapel.
The chapel features several very nicely crafted Romanesque lancet windows, but the best surviving feature is the chancel arch, which seems almost completely intact. The east end and chancel wall rise to a gable peak, and at the west end the remains of a tower still stand above wall height.
One odd fact about Runston is what happened to its medieval font. When the chapel fell out of use the font was taken to St Julian's church in Newport, and used as a holy water stoup beside the north-west entrance.
Runston is not the easiest place to find. The first time we tried to find the chapel we drove right past the trail. Even the second time, when we knew where to look, it wasn't obvious. Here's the best way I know of to describe the location:
From the centre of Crick take the minor road north towards Shirenewton. About 1 mile up the road there is a lane leading off to the right towards Runston Farm and Hayes Gate. Just past the farm, no more than 100 yards up the road, a footpath leads off to the right. Park along the verge, near the farm, and take the footpath, now heading south, back towards Crick.
The footpath is signposted, but its course isn't terribly obvious after you go through a pair of farm gates. Just go over the hill in front of you, and head straight for a copse of trees. You should see the remains of the chapel tower poking above the trees. Off to your left there are fabulous views as far as the Severn Road Bridge, with England on the horizon.
As you approach the chapel site you will see turf-covered bumps in the ground, all that remains of the deserted medieval village of Runston.
One final obstacle is a farm gate outside the copse of trees. The gate was very firmly locked when we arrived, so we had to carefully climb over. A note to Cadw - some signs and better access arrangements would help!
It really is a shame that Runston Chapel is not better signposted and that access isn't easier, for the chapel itself is a very interesting building, a good example of a simple medieval country chapel. The most interesting feature is the chancel arch, as mentioned, but the south doorway is in good shape, and the deeply splayed Romanesque window in the nave is beautifully made. In the chancel we found what appears to be the remains of a medieval piscina set in the south wall. The chapel is surrounded on one side with a curious low stone wall, perhaps once meant to encircle the churchyard.
About Runston Chapel
Address: Crick, Monmouthshire, Wales
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: A48 to Crick, then 1 mile north east on a minor road
Website: Runston Chapel
Phone: 01443 336000
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Opening Details: Open access site, usually accessible at any reasonable time
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Caerwent Castle - 1.4 miles (Castle)
Caerwent Roman Town - 1.9 miles (Roman Site)
Caldicot Castle - 2 miles (Castle)
Llanmelin Wood Hill Fort - 2.2 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Chepstow Port Wall - 2.7 miles (Historic Building)
Chepstow, Bulwark Camp - 2.8 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Chepstow Castle - 2.8 miles (Castle)
Chepstow Priory - 2.9 miles (Abbey)
Nearest Accommodation to Runston Chapel :
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Nearest Tourist Information Centre ('as the crow flies')