William the ConquerorFor around 100 years prior to 1066, England experienced periods of Viking raids and influence also from Normandy. England became part of a North Sea empire and had kings of Danish and Norman as well as English origin. In 1066 William (the Conqueror), a noble from Normandy, arrived in England with a Norman army and defeated Harold at Hastings to become king (photo shows statue of him in Falaise, Normandy).

Herefordshire put up some resistance to the Normans who built castles in the area to both defend against and to subdue the local English as well as the Welsh. The Normans were responsible for ending early slavery in England as they absorbed such people into the class they called 'villeins' who were free but 'owed' service to their local lord. The Domesday Book was commissioned by King William in 1068 as a statistical survey of his newly acquired land. The Domesday survey for Herefordshire lists 1,730 villeins out of a population of 4,453. The entry for Garway reads: 'GARWAY belonged to Archenfield before 1066. There were 4 carucates (a measure of land area) of land there. Herman holds this land. 3 smallholders have 3 oxen.' A charter of Richard I from 1189 mentions 'All the land of Garway with the castellario (fortification) which was Herman's and with all its apertenances.'

Knights Templar sealSurprisingly the First Crusade of 1096 had a direct link with Garway. A number of knights did not return home after their successful capture of Jerusalem but chose to stay in order to protect pilgrims on the roads to and from Jerusalem. From this group of knights evolved the Order of the Poor Knights of the Temple Of Solomon. These Knights Templar (see illustration) were given many valuable gifts in recognition of their work in the Holy Land and one of these was an estate in Garway in 1180. All over Europe the Templars worked their estates to provide funds for their Brothers who were fighting to keep Jerusalem a Christian city. The Garway estate of over 2,000 acres has since been divided up and the domestic buildings long decayed, but evidence of the Templars' occupation has survived. Their church continues as a place of worship for the villagers and its massive tower still stands tall. The external remains of the original circular nave have been preserved and inside the church the beautiful chancel arch and the altar stone are as the Templars left them (see St Michael's Church web page). On Friday 13 October 1307 the Knights Templar were suppressed and, in due course, their property passed to the Knights Hospitaller.

Knights HospitallerIn the 12th century, two hospitals had been built in Jerusalem and the Knights Hospitaller were knights who had stayed in Jerusalem to look after sick pilgrims in these hospitals. As with the Knights Templar, the Knights Hospitaller (see illustration) were granted land and possessions in Palestine and Europe and became a great and powerful institution. The Hospitallers in Garway also worked the land to generate income to maintain their presence in the Holy Land and have left traces of their occupation in the rectangular nave and the superb 14th Century chancel roof of Garway church. The dovecote (see photos) nearby the church is regarded as the finest example of a medieval columbarium in the country.

Dovecot external photo (Photo Joan Fleming-Yates)In 1397, the Bishop of Hereford made his triennial visitation to Garway and complained that the Curate only spoke English while his Parishoners only spoke Welsh! The Hospitallers remained in residence at their Garway preceptory for over 200 years until King Henry VIII's Reformation.

For more detail of this period see THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR & HOSPITALLER in HEREFORDSHIRE by Audrey Tapper, published by Logaston Press and THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS and HOSPITALLERS in the MANOR of GARWAY, HEREFORDSHIRE by Joan Fleming-Yates published by the Ross-on-Wye Civic Society.