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St Michael, Michaelchurch, Herefordshire

(51°55′33″N, 2°41′52″W)
SO 521 255
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Herefordshire
now Herefordshire
medieval Llandaff
now Hereford
  • Ron Baxter
08 Jun 2011

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Michaelchurch is a small village in the S of the county, 5 miles W of Ross-on-Wye. The church is isolated on a hillside, and consists of a nave and chancel in one built of local rough Devonian sandstone rubble, with a rendered timber bell-turret on the W gable , and a S porch. The N nave wall is early Norman, with a blocked doorway, while the S wall was rebuilt in the 13thc. The Romanesque work recorded here comprises the N doorway, the font and a Roman altar remodelled for use as a piscina.

The church was declared redundant and vested in the Churches Conservation Trust in 1973.


Michaelchurch is not mentioned by name in the Domesday survey, but it was included in the great manor of Ewyas Lacy, held by Roger de Lacy in 1086.

A church here was reputedly dedicated by Bishop Herwald of Llandaff in 1056, and from the earliest days the parish was associated with nearby Tretire. Since the Reformation Tretire has become more important, and Michaelchurch a subsidiary chapel.


Exterior Features




Piscinae/Pillar Piscinae


The pillar piscina was noted in the 1830s, but not published until 1874, "in the church of Tretire, near Ross". Tretire is only a mile from Michaelchurch, and as the present church of Tretire dates from 1855-56 it seems likely that the object was moved the short distance when Tretire church was rebuilt, and never returned. The discovery was by Classical archaeologists, who identified it as an Roman altar and read the inscription as the record of a gift by Beccicus (or Bellicus) to the God of the Three Ways (see Windle).

The font, carved with an assortment of chip-carved, interlace and geometrical ornament, is not dated by Brooks and Pevsner or the List Description while the Herefordshire SMR, perhaps following Marshall suggests the 2nd quarter of the 12thc - a reasonable conservative estimate.


B. C. A. Windle (ed.), 'Notes on a Gallo--Roman Altar in the Museum of Boulogne', in A Collection of Archaeological Pamphlets on Roman Remains.., London pre-1945, repr. 2013.

A. Brooks and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Herefordshire. New Haven and London 2012, 508-09.

Herefordshire Sites and Monuments Record 6828

Historic England Listed building 155287

G. Marshall, “Fonts in Herefordshire”, Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club, II (1950), 27.

C. F. Page, Church of St Michael the Archangel, Michaelchurch, Herefordshire. Churches Conservation Trust 2010

RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire, 1: South-west, 1931, 239-40.