View of church with The Turning in background. Photo George WellsIt 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 first stone built Church on the site of the present 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 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.

View from the North. Photo Roger PattendenThe 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.

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.

Foundations of Templars Circular Nave. Photo Roger PattendenTower and Later Link to Nave. Photo Roger PattendenToday the Church has a special atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. 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. The side chapel contains a piscina of particular note (see photo). 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".

Garway Church, which underwent a major restoration in 1876, is an undiscovered gem, rich in history and architecture and we hope you will be able to visit the Church. Church services are held on most Sunday mornings and guided tours of the Church can be arranged by appointment, contact John Hughes, Church House, Garway, 01600 750415.

The Templars Norman Arch. Photo Roger Pattenden Pointed Arches. Photo Roger PattendenGreen Man in Norman Arch. Photo Roger Pattenden Original Pews. Photo Roger Pattenden Piscina in Side Chapel. Photo Roger Pattenden