St Margaret’s, St Margarets
- Off B4348
- OS Grid Ref: SO 353 337
- Open access
- Parking available
- Visit the website
‘My own memory of the perfect Herefordshire is a spring day in the foothills of the Black Mountains and finding among the winding hilltop lanes the remote little church of St. Margaret’s where there was no sound but a farm dog’s distant barking. Opening the church door I saw across the whole width of the little chancel a screen and loft all delicately carved and textured pale grey with time’.
St. Margaret’s Church is a simple church of Norman origin noted for a rare surviving example of a rood screen carved in oak. Standing nearly 800 ft above sea level it has magnificent views over the Hereford plain to the hills of Dinedor, Aconbury and Garway and westward to the Black Mountains. It is of stone construction with a locally quarried stone tiled roof. The roof was renewed in 2007 as part of a major renovation project which was funded by English Heritage together with many gifts from charities, visitors and parishioners. In the southern part of the churchyard there is a stone pillar on a raised plinth which was once a preaching cross. The church is included in England’s Thousand Best Churches by Simon Jenkins (Penguin Books: London: 2000).
The rood screen dates from c.1520 and is a rare survivor of the post reformation order of 1547 that all such works should be destroyed.
A DVD of a lecture entitled ‘The Significance of o the Rood Screen at St. Margaret’s Church’, given by Professor Dixon in June 2007 is available to order from the Treasurer. Details are available in the church.
The east window is by Archibald Davies (1878-1953) whose work can be found in both Hereford and Worcester Cathedrals, and in other cathedrals and churches throughout the world including Johannesburg Cathedral. Explanatory material is available in the chancel.
Another striking feature of the church is the wall texts which were first restored in 1974 before they were lost. Many visitors find these inspiring words a strong reminder that the fabric itself is an act of worship as well as still being a place of worship for both the congregation as well as the many visitors who find St. Margaret’s Church a place of peace and contemplation.
Visitors are always welcome with the church being open every day until dusk. A Flower Festival takes place every year, usually the first Sunday in August followed by a Harvest Festival in October. For such special occasions the Clodock Group of Parishes Choir usually attends. St. Margaret’s congregation is usually well represented among its ranks. Occasional lectures and events such as a Family History Open Day have been held in the past.
Postcards and copies of the church leaflet are available for purchase. These, together with other information, may be found on the table near the font as you enter the church. Please sign the Visitor’s Book at this point as it is very encouraging for all those involved in the running of St. Margaret’s Church to see who has visited.
Although the population of the village has never been more than three hundred the church continues to play its part in the community with a service approximately every three weeks within the rota of services held among the other five churches in the Clodock Group. The electoral role usually numbers about 30.
The Herefordshire Way footpath passes through the churchyard and the church is often a destination for walkers as part of the Festival of Walking held in Herefordshire in June of each year. The congregation is always very pleased to meet visitors to the area who join them for Sunday worship.
There is ample parking for visitors and disabled access may be gained through the porch into the nave over a low step ( approximately 4 inches). Access to the chancel is over a slightly higher step.
Directions: Grid Ref: SO 358337. If approaching from Pontrilas to the south follow the B4347 towards Abbeydore. After Abbeydore ( see the pages for the Abbey Church) continue on the B 4347 and then, after approximately 1.5 miles take a left- hand turn, sign-posted St. Margarets. Follow the signposts showing your way through the narrow lanes as you gradually climb to the hills of the Golden Valley with views of Hay Bluff and the Black Mountains. After approximately 3.6 miles you will reach a cross roads which has a red phone box situated on the left. Turn right following the sign to St. Margarets and the church car park will be on your left at the top of the hill. You are nearing your destination when the lane takes a sharp left hand turn while skirting the boundary of the churchyard.
If you are approaching from either Hay on Wye ( take the second right after passing the village centre of Peterchurch) or Hereford on the B 4348 ( take the first left after the junction with the B 4347) follow the signs at this junction for Vowchurch, and Michaelchurch Escley. Continue on this road as it climbs out of the valley and after 2.7 miles turn left ( this is the first road to the left since leaving the B 4348) at the junction signposted St. Margarets and The Church. Follow this lane and the church will come into view on the right after approximately two miles.