Worship at Michaelchurch for over a millennium

We continued our COVID church-crawl around our local Churches Conservation Trust properties today with a visit to Michaelchurch (no further dedication needed), quite near Pencoyd, in the hilly country overlooking the Wye off the Hereford-Ross road. It sits low and long, nestled in the hillside, reminding me of similarity remote upland churches in Cumbria, by an ancient man-made pond, hinting at this being a place of worship even before Christianity arrived, as does the Roman altar to the God of the Crossroads now kept in the church after being rediscovered in pieces in the building and nearby. The earliest Christian building is said to have been consecrated by Bishop of Herwald of Llandaff, reminding us that we are in Archenfeld, a former Welsh territory (and indeed in the old Welsh-named parish of Tretire: this must always have been a chapelry).

The surviving structure and strong if rather rustically carved font go back to soon after the Conquest, though the chancel is a thirteenth century addition (when the plaster was beautified with red-lined representation of ashlar) and the spacious porch joined it in the seventeenth (when that was pained over with texts). The screen is perhaps 16th-century, the pulpit 17th, the ceiling 18th, the choir stalls 19th. (wit a rather fine Michael) – and so the church quietly tiptoed through the centuries, acquiring successive plaques to the Fisher family who perhaps paid for it, until it finally fell asleep in the arms of the CCT. Warmest thanks to them and their local volunteers who keep it open and spick and span for us to visit (and for an annual service in the summer). Drop in yourself and share a moment of peace and quiet too.