Adapted from a 1997 Harper Historical Society brochure by Joyce Cartmill
This is the Church which once stood in Runnymede, an English village, nine and one-half miles northeast of Harper along the Chicaskia River. The church was first dedicated as St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in 1889, but was rededicated in the name of St. James when in 1893, Episcopalians of Harper, purchased the frame building and moved it to its present location at llth and Pine Streets.
In 1959, the City of Harper leased the Church from the Episcopal Diocese of Salina and the Harper City Historical Society undertook the restoration and preservation of the Church as a monument to local history. Through donations of materials and labor the outside has been painted grey and trimmed in white. The interior furnishings are, for the most part, retained from the Runnymede era. It is certain that the stone baptismal font and the bronze memorial plaque were imported from England. The pews, the kneeling benches, the organ, the choir seats and a few Bibles, hymnals, and prayer books number among the original contents. Three stained glass windows, lights, carpeting and altar furnishings were added or replaced since the church was moved to Harper. The bronze plaque is in memory of Robert Watmough who perished in the fire which was greatly responsible for the final ruin of the Runnymede project.
Runnymede was established by an Irish promoter who persuaded wealthy English and Irish families to send their sons to America for an annual fee to study our farming methods. These gay, reckless young men were interested more in fun than farming and were adept on the polo field, the steeplechase course, and the race track. Some of the finest horses in the country could be seen racing there.
Daily trips between Harper, Runnymede and Norwich were made by a tallyho stage coach on top of which perched members of a band who serenaded the passengers. Runnymede was thriving at that time with a nursery, livery stables, green-grocers, meet markets, a billiard hall, a bowling alley, a lumber yard, a granary, a hotel, a soda water factory, a barber shop, a steam laundry, a blacksmith shop, a buggy shop, an art gallery, and a hardware store. During a period of five years this community flourished, then withered and died on the Kansas prairie, leaving a solitary grave in a lonely field, a site marked by the Kansas Historical Society, and to us, of Harper, this church.
Harper Chamber of Commerce
201 W. Main / Harper, KS 67058
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