It is believed that there has been a Church at Garway for over 1400 years. The original Church was Celtic, dating back to about 600 A.D., of wooden construction and positioned in the field above the present Church.

The earliest record of a monastery here was in 615 AD, St Michael's Church - general viewThe first stone built Church was established about 1180 A.D. by the Knights Templar, who were given the land by Henry II. This Church was built with a circular nave, (the capped foundations of which were found in 1927 and can be seen beside the North wall - see photo) one of only six Templar churches in England. The round foundations can be seen clearly on the north side of the church and the original carved Chancel Arch still survives. The Church Tower, which was built separately from the Church in about 1200 A.D, was used as a refuge and was only joined to the nave in the 15th century (see photo) . The Knights Templar were dissolved by the King of France and the Pope during the period 1307 to 1314 and their land at Garway was passed to the Knights Hospitaller.

The Hospitallers replaced the circular nave with a conventional nave sometime in the 15th century. It is thought possible that the circular nave could have become unstable due to landslip or subsidence. The Hospitallers also built the very fine Chancel roof around 1400, said to be one of the finest examples of the Herefordshire style of medieval roofing.The Hospitallers owned the Manor of Garway including the church until the dissolution of the monasteries in around 1540.

St Michael's Church Tower

Following the dissolution of the monasteries, St Michael's became a simple village Church, which it has remained to this day. However the period of 200 years after the dissolution of the monasteries was a time of religious turmoil in Garway because most villagers remained Roman Catholic and, as a consequence, they were continually fined and their property confiscated.

There is a fine Norman arch (see photo) and a beautiful arcade of two pointed arches in the early English style (see photo). The arcade separates the Chancel from the Templars side chapel, where Knights were initiated into the order.Norman Arch in Church The side chapel contains a piscina of particular note . The Church also contains examples of carved Templar coffin lids, which were reused as steps and window lintels by the Hospitallers. There are strange carved stone crosses and incised figures on the walls of the Church. The nave contains original pews, dating back to the 17th century (see photo). It is quite rare to find original pews in Churches today, prior to that date the parishioners were made to stand in Church, on the basis of "no pain, no gain".

Following the dissolution of the monasteries, St Michael's became a simple village Church, which it has remained to this day.

Garway Church, which underwent a major restoration in 1876, is an undiscovered gem, rich in history and architecture and has a special atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.

We hope you will be able to visit the Church. For more information you can visit the relevant Historic Herefordshire Online page and find out even more from Audrey Tapper's book available in the church. Guided tours of the Church can be arranged by appointment, contact John Hughes, Church House, Garway, 01600 750415.Pointed Arches to Side Chapel

Services are held at the Church, which is part of the Archenfield Group of Churches, on most Sunday mornings. The regular pattern of Services is: on the second Sunday of the month at 9.15 Morning Worship, Third Sunday: Family Communion with our Children's Music Group accompanying hymns and a family friendly feel at 11.00,  and on the Fourth Sunday: Holy Communion at 9.15. Details of all services at St Michael's and the other Archenfield Group of Churches can be found at St Weonards Benefice - Churches and Communities.

St Michael's Church is a very important part of the community and in addition to regular services it is used for other events - in the past year alone there have been: a historical pageant about the history of Garway and Archenfield, a May Day celebration, a well-dressing (at the reopening of an ancient holy well), preservation of wild flowers in the churchyard and a Festival of Memories.

Finding the church (Grid reference SO 454 224): In Garway, you'll find the Common and the Garway Moon pub. From the pub go west past the school and carry on out of the main village for about a mile. Pass the road to Garway Hill and carry on till you reach several houses - turn left at this point (by the Chapel) and go down the hill for a hundred yards then left onto a track which leads to the church itself. Please park carefully and do not block entry to the farm fields next to the track. 

View of Chruch and the Turning     Foundations of Templar Church     Piscina in Chapel    Original Pews   Greenman detail