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Churches of Herefordshire


Garway
St. Michael's Church


The Knights Templar were given land in Llangarewi by King Henry II in 1180. These warrior monks immediately rebuilt the Saxo-Celtic Church in the usual circular nave and square chancel style, imitating the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The chancel survives but the circular nave has only been revealed through excavation. The once detached fortress-like tower was later built as a place of safety during Welsh border raids. The Knights had their Commandery on the site of the present Church Farm and the income from this Manor helped pay for many Crusading campaigns in the Holy Land. The place was so important that it even gained a visit from the Order's Grand master, James de Molay, in 1294.

By 1308, however, the Templars had been suppressed and Garway was given to the associated Order of Knights Hospitaller from Dinmore. Due to subsidence, they replaced the circular nave with the present one and also built the dovecote, still to be seen nearby. The Hospitallers residency was a time of hot dispute with the Bishop of Hereford from whom they claimed full independence. Things reached a head in 1523, when they refused, yet again, to pay the prelate his dues and thus found themselves excommunicated!

Garway always held the right of Sanctuary whereby criminals could find save haven in the church before fleeing abroad. However, during the Dissolution of Monmouth Priory by Henry VIII's commissioners in 1536, the last Prior, Richard Talybush fled to the sanctuary of Garway, only to find that the King's men had arrived before him and already seized all the preceptory's rights and possessions!

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