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Radnorshire Churches Survey

Church of St Michael , Michaelchurch-on-Arrow

Michaelchurch-on-Arrow Church is in the Diocese of Hereford, in the community of Gladestry in the county of Powys. It is located at Ordnance Survey national grid reference SO2473950708.
The church is recorded in the CPAT Historic Environment Record as number 16910 and this number should be quoted in all correspondence.

Michaelchurch-on-Arrow Church, CPAT copyright photo 95150020.JPG


St Michael's church lies in the extreme east of Radnorshire, a short distance from the border with England and 8km from Kington. The tower and lower part of the nave are early, perhaps even 13thC, but there are few architectural details, except for a putatively early lancet in the tower, and much was probably swept away in the restoration of 1869. The interior retains a screen and a ciborium, both late medieval and the latter particularly important, together with a medieval font. The rectilinear churchyard is unexceptional.

Tower appears to be largely original though belfry windows inserted; said to be 13thC on basis of a single, surviving lancet window which appears to be original. Upper walls of nave rebuilt and all windows are Victorian, but lower wall faces appear to be original, and probably contemporary with tower. Chancel walls also have inserted windows but perhaps less rebuilding of upper wall faces. Porch is 19thC.

Parts of the following description are quoted from the 1979 publication The Buildings of Wales: Powys by Richard Haslam


Nothing of the early history nor of its subsequent development has been established for this church.

Much restoration was completed in 1869 by Thomas Nicholson, the diocesan architect of Hereford, the fabric being "deplorably spoilt" (Crossley and Ridgeway).

Relatively minor repairs were undertaken in 1949, to the tower and floors.


St Michael's church consists of a nave, a slightly narrower chancel, a south porch off the nave, a low west tower the same width as the nave, and a small vestry on the north side of the chancel. It is aligned south-west/north-east, but for descriptive purposes 'ecclesiastical east' is used here.

Fabrics: 'A' consists of small and medium-sized blocks and slabs of shale, sandstone and mudstone of varying colours, irregularly coursed. 'B' is similar but is more regularly coursed with tabular slabs.

Roofs: weathered stone slates, toothed ridge tiles. Cross finial at ends of nave and chancel.

Drainage: no wholly convincing evidence of a drainage trench around the wall but possible traces particularly on south side.


Tower. General. In Fabric 'B' with first 0.5m of tabular shale, and other interrupted slab courses higher up; ashlar quoins at lower levels but infrequent higher up. Plain wall faces without string-courses. Saddleback roof. Dated on basis of one lancet to the 13thC by Haslam but a 15thC date has been put on it by another authority.

North wall: wall has gable end. Three slit windows with internal splays, staggered diagonally; lowest has ashlar dressings, the others edged by more regular masonry. Above these, lighting the belfry, is large Victorian lancet, double chamfered dressings in yellow sandstone.

East wall: apex of nave roof reaches almost to eaves of tower roof. Some patches of less weathered masonry, particularly above north nave roof. Sloping drip-course above south nave roof but not parallel to it.

South wall: changes in stone type provide some 'zoning' on wall face. Low down on wall is a lancet window with some freestone dressings; higher up two internally splayed slits, staggered as on north wall, and at belfry level, a Victorian lancet window comparable with that in north wall.

West wall: two slit windows only, staggered; the upper is splayed internally, the lower is wider and may not be splayed.

Nave. General. Fabric 'A' with regular squared blocks of shale supporting the ends of tie beams. May be 13thC or 14thC and broadly contemporary with tower.

North wall: upper part of wall may be rebuilt but evidence not as clear as on south side (see below); two windows, to the west a single trefoil-headed lancet, to the east a pair in similar style: both Victorian. Two mural tablets of 1802/1804 and 1805 attached to wall.

East wall: where visible the stone is weathered, but above eaves level, it is covered by vertically hung slates.

South wall: two windows as north side. Fabric consistent except for one dressed mudstone block to east of more easterly window which could be re-used. At south-east angle the quoin stones are considerably more regular at lower levels than higher up, and coincide with weathered appearance of masonry to height of 1.2m-1.5m along wall face, suggesting that upper part of wall rebuilt in Victorian restoration. West of more westerly window a patch of weathered stonework contemporary with tower masonry protrudes at window level into what is otherwise a rebuilt wall face.

West wall: not present.

Vestry. Victorian.

Chancel. General. Fabric 'A', though stonework may be a little more regular than in nave.

North wall: wall face interrupted by vestry. West of this is a single lancet with chamfered dressings of grey sandstone. East of the vestry is a second window which lights the sanctuary; it has similar dressings but a square head. Both are almost certainly post-medieval, though not necessarily of the 1869 restoration.

East wall: wall slightly battered to height of c.2m. Plain wall face with ashlar quoins but no east window.

South wall: two windows; that to east has two lights and has dressings of the same type as those in the north wall; the more westerly is larger but also two-light, and has Victorian yellow sandstone dressings. Evidence that some of wall rebuilt, particularly around windows.

Porch. General. Fabric 'A', but the coursing more regular than that of nave.

East and west wall: plain.

South wall: butt ends of east and west walls support a braced tie beam with king post which forms the open gable work above the ungated entrance to the porch.


Porch. General. Flagged floor; plastered walls; roof of modern scissor trusses.

North wall: south wall of nave has Victorian pointed arch in yellow sandstone. Above an Incorporated Church Building Society plaque of 1867.

East and west walls: stone benches.

Tower. General. Floor covered over. Timber ceiling. Ground level lit by two tiers of slit windows. Wall faces inset on south, west and (at a fractionally higher level) north to support a floor that has now gone. Putlog holes in walls which appear to be randomly placed.

North wall: deeply splayed slit window, comparable with lancet in south wall.

South wall: original lancet is deeply splayed in contrast to simple slit at higher level.

West wall: possible infilling of wall face in places.

Nave. General. Floor of well-set stone flags incorporating three grave slabs of 1774, 1774 and 1684. The last two of these were not seen but are referred to in the comprehensive written survey of the church memorials, available in the church. Floor partly covered by carpet, and concrete beneath benches. Plastered and whitewashed walls. Roof of arch-braced collars springing from decorated wall plates.

North wall: splayed windows with flat sills.

East wall: screen with, above it, a 19thC cusped wooden chancel arch with boarding above, pierced with a distinctive arcade placed on the arch.

South wall: as north wall.

West wall: broad two-centred arch of dressed stone to tower. Three 19thC mural tablets.

Chancel. General. Victorian tiled floor in sanctuary and down centre of chancel. Plastered and whitewashed walls. Roof of braced collars, but over sanctuary (and ciborium) is a restored coved ceiling though the ribs and bosses in the centre are original: a bishop (of Hereford), Henry IV, and Joan of Navarre are the identifications of the heads, which point to a date of c.1410; the fourth is a grotesque head. Outer arch with a cresting of inverted cusping and sub-cusping.

North wall: more easterly window doubles as Easter Sepulchre. Mural tablet of 1815 adjacent.

South wall: windows as in nave, though sedilia below that in sanctuary. Piscina of no great age beside it.


The churchyard is irregularly rectilinear in shape, the ground sloping gently down from north-west to south-east, though behind the church (i.e. to the north-west) it is relatively flat. This location is on the northern edge of a shallow valley, its stream running north-eastwards.

The present graveyard occupies a rectangular zone to the south-east of the church, traversed by the path to the porch. Graves cover part of this, the rest is overgrown. A metal fence running south-eastwards from the southern angle of the nave and another running north-eastwards from the northern angle of the chancel cordon off the rest of the churchyard to the north and west of the church. There are no obvious graves in this patch and it is presumably grazed by stock. The churchyard is certainly used for modern burial.

Boundary: around the south-east and south-west is a steep scarp bank, above a stream and a hollowed roadway respectively. A hedge grows out of the bank and there are traces of a drystone revetment in places. A low stone wall reinforced by a wire fence provides the enclosure boundary on the north-west, but there are the remnants of a broader bank up to 4m wide and 0.6m high inside this, and at least seven large tree stumps are set into the back of it. A similar broad bank is discernible on the north-east planted with conifers.

Monuments: these all lie to the south-east of the church and in general are reasonably well spaced. A 1985 report (copy in church) lists them all, revealing that the earliest, just to the south of the porch, is of 1742, while to the south of the chancel the earliest is one of 1690 and there are three others from the first half of the 18thC. Some chest tombs, one of brick.

Furniture: none.

Earthworks: none.

Ancillary features: simple double gate in southern boundary with a grass path leading to the porch.

Vegetation: three yews, a couple of them quite large, lie to the south of the church. Conifers and deciduous species have grown up around the boundary.

Sources consulted

Cadw Schedule of Listed Buildings for Gladestry, 1995
CPAT Field Visit: 28 July 1995
Crossley and Ridgway 1949, 241
Davies 1905, 262
Faculty 1949: HRO/F/20-05-1949
Haslam 1979, 257

Click here to view full project bibliography

Please note that many rural churches are closed to the public at certain times. It is advisable to check when the church will be open before visiting. Information about access, or how to contact parish clergy, can often be obtained from the relevant Diocesan Office which can be found through the Church in Wales website. Further information about Michaelchurch-on-Arrow Church may also be found on the Hereford Diocese website.

The CPAT Radnorshire Churches Survey Project was funded by Cadw as part of an all Wales survey of medieval parish churches.

This HTML page has been generated from the Cadw Churches Survey database & CPAT's Regional Historic Environment Record - 17/07/2007 ( 22:02:45 ).
Further information about this and other churches surveyed is available from the Regional Historic Environment Record, Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust, Curatorial Section, 41 Broad Street, Welshpool, Powys, SY21 7RR tel - (01938) 553670, fax - (01938) 552179, email -, website -

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