The first church
The first vicars name recorded at ‘St Michaels’, Felton is John Lyllwell who took up the position on April 18th 1554 sponsored by Sir John Pryce of Brecon, his patron who had been given lands recently by Henry VIII following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. This would have included those of St Guthlac’s Priory which held ‘Feltone’ at that time. There is no physical evidence of a religious building on the present site or elsewhere on the present site. There was the Benedictine Priory just over the southern boundary of the Parish. It should be remembered that Parish boundaries have moved over time.
It is reasonable to assume that when John Lyllwell took up the ‘living’ there was a church on the present site and a house for the clergy nearby. Six clergy followed Lywell in the next 150 years and in the period 1708-1734 the incumbent, Rev Henry Price rebuilt the vicarage, which at that time was east of the church beside the lane. He also paved the chancel, which at that time contained no sepulchre inscription.
Six clergy later, and after another 117 years, Rev Henry Thomas Hill MA arrived at Felton to find ‘a dilapidated church, a small old parsonage down the road, bare fields and glebe land’. The church at that time was a small building dedicated to St Michael. It consisted of a Nave, Chancel, a wooden Tower with three bells. Between the Nave and the Chancel were the remains of a wooden loft. In the south wall of the Chancel was the LaraCrum under plain arch in Saxo style.
Near the communion rail was a flat stone inscribed: ‘Here lieth the body of Capt. Thomas Coningsby Esq. of Morton Bagot in the County of Warwickshire being the eldest of that family he died 18th June 1690’.
The present church building
On arrival in 1851 Rev. Hill engaged Thomas Nicholson, a Hereford Architect, who designed a new vicarage in the Georgian style alongside the dilapidated church only separated by a privet hedge. Having established a new parsonage the Rev. Hill set about completely rebuilding the church. In 1853 Nicholson drew up some new plans which included some Norman features with windows in 13th Century Lancet style. W. E. Martin completed the building work in 1854. A watercolour painted in 1850 of the church confirms the complete rebuild.
Four bells, cast in Whitechapel foundry in East London, engraved 1854, were installed in the new stone castellated Tower. A fifth bell, engraved in memory of ‘Melsup Hill 1869’ (Rev. Hill’s daughter?) was installed. On the roof of the Tower there is an Oak Shingled Spire, at the pinnacle is a weathers cock, probably of pre 1854 shown in the watercolour of 1850.
In about 2007 the access footpath from the Lych Gate to the church door was repaired and up-dated in line with the current Disability Access Act.
The atmosphere of the interior of this small rural church is warm and friendly. It exudes peace and tranquillity suited to its purpose of a Grade II listed building. ‘A closeness to God pervades the atmosphere’.
The setting of this Grade II church, on its slightly elevated site down a narrow country lane, is most charming and welcoming. The approach to the church porch is a gentle climb rewarded by a splendid 180 degree panorama.
We recently received grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust have to do major repairs to the roof and upgrade the heating. Two windows in the chancel have also recently been restored in memory of Margery Robey, a long-time and dedicated member of our congregation.
Fund raising at St Michael The Archangel Church
The church and local community regularly have fund raising events throughout the year.
Friends of Felton
We also rely on donations both privately and through Friends of Felton; where people can choose to donate specifically to the fabric of the church as they wish to ensure the continuation of the builds and heritage of this small village.