St Michael, Garway, Herefordshire

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Feature Sets (2)


Garway is a small village in the SW of the county, 9 miles W of Ross-on-Wye and less than a mile from the River Monnow that forms the Welsh border. It consists of a few houses along a minor road with the church at the W end of the settlement. The church has a chancel with a S chapel separated from the chancel by a 13thc 2-bay arcade, and an unaisled nave with lateral doorways blocked. There was originally a round nave and a N porch, excavated in 1927 and partly exposed on the N side. This relates to its former status as a preceptory of Knights Templars.  The present nave is early 14thc. At the NW corner of the nave is a freestanding 13thc tower, linked to the nave by a short passage, probably 17thc. The only Romanesque feature recorded here is the chancel arch.


Garway was among the lands in Archenfield that belonged to Leominster Abbey before the Conquest. In 1086 it was held by Herman and assessed at 4 carucates. Land was given to the Knights Templar by King Henry II, and they built the round church on the site, including the Romanesque chancel arch. When the Templars were dissolved in the early 14thc the church passed to the Knights Hospitaller, who held it until the Reformation.


Interior Features


Chancel arch/Apse arches

Chancel arch

Round-headed with 3 orders to W and 1 to E.

1st order (shared)

Plain square jambs carrying quirked hollow chamfered imposts shaved flush on the W face. In the arch a single row of voussoirs similar to roll corbels is set frontal to the soffit.  The effect is of inward-facing sawtooth, each tooth a roll flanked by a pair of chamfers.  Teeth are sometimes single voussoirs and sometimes two to a voussoir.

2nd order W face

En-delit nook-shafts on low attic bases carry capitals. The N a block capital with a horned male head on the angle, having scrolls of beaded foliage issuing from his mouth onto the L and R faces in a symmetrical design terminating in brush-like leaves issuing from clasps. The necking is broken away. The S capital has an angle volute with a mirror pair of scrolls at the top and below them an inverted spade-shaped leaf that rises from a double roll-moulded necking. The flanking faces are decorated with palmettes. The imposts quirked hollow chamfered. In the arch is a complex chevron consisting of point-to-point rolls whose tips meet over a hyphenated chevron angle roll.

3rd order W face

Jambs as the 2nd order, except for the capital designs, which are both waterleaf. The N capital has a simple and heavy waterleaf design embellished with horizontal rows of heavy beading on both faces of the abacus. The N impost terminates in a daisy with whirling petals at the N end of the face.  The S capital is a more traditional and finer waterleaf design. The arch is carved with two quirked rolls of chevron frontal to the face. There is a chamfered label flush with the wall face.


The spectacular chancel arch represents the final throes of true Romanesque in Herefordshire, with its virtuosic chevron decoration and capitals packed with ornament. Pevsner suggested that the inner arch order was ‘a re-assembly of pieces made for ribs’, an interpretation that ignores the fact that many of the voussoirs contain a pair of projections side by side as was noted by Brooks in the revised volume.


  • A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. New Haven and London 2012, 243-45.

  • Herefordshire SMR 1064

  • Historic England Listed Building 155157

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. Harmondsworth 1963, 135-36.

  • RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, 1: South-west, 1931, 69.

Exterior from N
Interior to E
Ground plan in church


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SO 455 225 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Herefordshire
now: Herefordshire
now: Hereford
medieval: Hereford
now: St Michael
medieval: St Michael (pre-Reformation)
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
08 Jun 2011