GARWAY ​CAMERA, documents

The remains of Garway Camera​  ​(SO45502248) lie 15 miles south of Hereford on high ground overlooking the eastern slopes of the valley of the River Monnow. Today they lie within the county of Hereford but were formerly within Monmouthshire. The remains consist of the Hospitallers' church and chapel, now the parish church of St Michael, a defensive tower and a dovecot. The church and the dovecot are both listed Grade I, the dovecot is also a scheduled an ancient monument.

Garway camera

GARWAY CAMERA, HEREFORDSHIRE, (NHLE 1099751, 1001765 and 13487810​)

Garway was  established as a preceptory of the Knights Templar during the reign of Henry II (1165-1180), the original grant being confirmed by King John on 16th of July 1199. However, with the suppression of the Templars in 1312 Garway passed into the hands of the Hospitallers. At the time of the 1338 Extent Garway was being administered by a chaplain brother listed as custos, that is a warden or guardian and not a preceptor. Accordingly, Garway can only have been a camera at this time and it appears it may have been subsidiary to the larger preceptory at Dinmore, with which it is grouped in later documents.


The account for Garway (rendered Garewy), including the Reprise, also gives details of four membris​ none of which now survive archaeologically and are not considered further here. Three buildings are mentioned as a source of revenue at Garway, a manerium with a garden valued at one mark, the church valued at 41 shillings and a watermill valued at 50 shillings. This latter structure would have been down in the valley and a Garway Mill (SO45262139) is extant to this day. The Herefordshire SMR records this as a 15th century structure on the site of the Templars' mill, valued  at 65 shillings in 1213, and this original mill or its successor would have been the one referred to in the 1338 Extent. Other sources of revenue listed are assize rents, labour services, arable land, pasture and meadow and court dues.

Turning to the Reprise, in addition to the custos, three corrodariis (a type of pensioner) are listed, along with a chaplain for celebrating mass in the chapel, a chamerlain, a bailiff, a cook, a baker, a porter (janitoris), a reeve, two boys serving  the custos, two pages and a steward.  An expense is also listed for wine, wax and oil for the chapel and there is a charge for repairs to the chapel and to the churches and houses throughout the manor (bajuliam). Each of the four membris listed had a mesuagium and three also had churches.

Notwithstanding its status as a camera, Garway seems to have been an important establishment and the 1338 Extent specifically refers to its role in catering for visitors, especially from Wales (quamplurimum de Wallia​). An interesting insight to Garway's role on the border is that  when the Bishop of Hereford made his triennial visitation to Garway in 1397 he had to admonish the chaplain for being unable to care for the souls of parish as he did not speak Welsh whereas they could not speak English (Fleming-Yates, nd).


In Webb's account of Garway in Archaeologia 31 (1846) attention is drawn to the lease of Garway to the local Mynor family in 1512. An annexe to the lease gives details of the state of the buildings at that time.  The chancel (cancella) of the church and adjoining chapel are said to be in good repair which was also the case with a dovecot. The other buildings including the hall, a parlour, the priest's chamber and a stable are all described as valde ruinosa - exceedingly ruinous - and in want of timer to repair the roofs. A cow house, situated next to the cemetery of the church, is also ruinous as is the watermill. This gives an indication of the buildings at Garway at the end of the 15th century and their state of disrepair suggests that the Hospitallers had not been present for some time. Along with Dinmore Preceptory, Garway Camera​ passed into secular hands in 1535.