Runnymeade, 22 Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Runnymeade (Runnymede) is a home that I can only describe as one of the finest homes in Dublin, not just Dublin City. The house sits on a comfortable one acre site and is one of three homes on the road which features both an outdoor pool and tennis court, along with Fintragh and Balholm. Not only does it sit on one of Shrewsbury’s largest sites, but the house itself is also possibly the most beautiful home on the road. The rear of the property is particularly stunning following recent additions to the property – all the different roof levels and window shapes make the house really interesting and unique compared to the more boxy looking new-builds on the street. Runnymede also enjoys an usually good frontage onto Shrewsbury Road, its site widest at the entrance, with a dual-entrance.
The house was built towards the end of the 1800’s and designed by Richard Caulfield Orpen, who also designed Belmont, the Denis O’Brien-owned house across the street. The first owner was Joseph Meade, a Lord Mayor of Dublin.
In 1949, a new generation of Meades took over Runnymeade. Mr and Mrs Harry Meade moved from their home at Fitzwilliam Place to Runnymede, and by this time Harry was the President of the Royal College of Surgeons. Mrs Harry Meade was known for her charity work, and organized a Childrens Carnival called ‘Wonderland’ at the Dublin Mansion House for Christmas 1949 in aid of St. Bridget’s Nursing Centre. Harry Meade died in 1952 (full name: Harry Sords Meade) at the age of 68. It is revealed that he was born in China, the son of a civil servant, in 1884 and moved to Ireland as a child.
The next owner, Mr Gerald Joseph Minch, died a mere two years later. He was a managing director of Messrs. Minch, Norton & Co., Ltd., a director of John F. Renshaw & Co. (Ireland) Ltd. and on the board of Messrs. Johnston, Mooney & O’Brien, Ltd. He left behind him an estate of £58,533 – over quadruple what the former owner had left behind only four years previous. In the year 1960, it is possible that a new family was living in the home – most likely the family of J. D. Luhy.
Finally, in 1985, the property came on the open market for possibly the first time since its construction. At the time, the home comprised three reception rooms, seven bedrooms and three bathrooms. The house was offered for sale by auction and made £302,000, after 5 bidders with a total of 34 bids fought for the property when bidding opened at £200,000. The director of Hamilton & Hamilton Estate Agents described the sale at the time as “the highest ever achieved for a residential property without development potential in the area.”
The buyers were a mystery at the time as it was purchased on behalf of them by Messrs. McCann Fitzgerald Sutton Dudley solicitors. Their then-clients, and purchasers of Runnymede, were the MacKenzie family who live there today. Evidence for this is MacKenzie’s own statement in an objection letter relating to demolition of ‘Belmont’ across the street, where he declares that he has lived there for 23 years (this was in 2007), confirming he and his wife, Barbara (née Kidney) were definitely the buyers.
The house is truly stunning and has obviously been loved by every single owner as it appears the only reason for any resident leaving is death, and it is possible that the house has only been owned by a handful of different families. Given how amazing this house is makes me wonder why the MacKenzie’s even submitted an offer for Walford in 2005, aside from speculative development opportunities, as apart from Walford’s superior garden size, Runnymede runs laps around its neighbour.