Garway Templar church, England

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Garway Templar church, England

St Michael's Church in the Herefordshire village of Garway, England, is an intriguing 13th century building on a rectangular plan, created from an earlier 12th century round church built by the Knights Templar.

The Garway church is one of only six churches in England built by the Knights Templar. Apart from the Temple in London, itself heavily restored after damage in the Blitz, Garway is the most substantial remains of a Templar church extant in England. 

St Michael's is composed of a nave, chancel, and south chapel, joined to a detached 70 foot high tower by a 17th century passage.

The chancel arch of the round Templar church was used as the chancel arch for the 13th century building. The rounded foundations of the earlier Templar church were uncovered by excavations in the 20th century, and can be viewed to the north of the current nave.

The Templars built their churches on a circular foundation, in emulation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Garway has the only visible circular nave remaining in England.

At the time of its foundation, Garway was the most powerful Templar church in the Welsh Marches.

Henry II granted this site to the Templars. There is nothing unusual in such an endowment, but we might speculate that it suited Henry very well to have an elite  military order established so close to the lawless Welsh borders!

The local area - known as Archenfield - was a relatively peaceful “buffer state” between the two countries, located in England but with the people Welsh-speaking. The site for the Templar preceptory was probably due to the springs rising from Garway Hilll and providing both drinking water and supplies for the fishponds.

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