The church is Grade II* listed and described by Cadw as ‘remarkable' due to the 18th century Morgan Family Chapel and its impressive monuments. The church is also home to the largest collection of hatchments in any religious building in Wales. St Michael’s was a runner up in the 2022 National Churches Trust Visitor Welcome Awards.
Located in the small, pretty conservation village of Lower Machen, the church was founded in the 5th century. The Grade II* listed St Michael's church was first mentioned in documentary evidence in 1102.
The 19th century cast iron entrance gates and the historic graveyard with a late medieval preaching cross are Grade II listed. Only the base of the cross on a stepped plinth remains probably having been destroyed during the 16th or 17th centuries. John Wesley preached here in English, on Friday 16th October 1741, during his third visit to Wales.
The church renowned for its fine acoustics continues to host great classical music and caters for a wide range of musical tastes in the 50 year tradition of the internationally famous Lower Machen Music Festival.
The Grade II* listing is due to the elegant Morgan Chapel (built in 1710) with its particularly notable family monuments. The chapel is entered through elaborately decorated black and gold scroll leafed gates, which are set in a classical arch. There has been a long association with the Morgan family who worshipped at St Michael’s and 14 adult members of the family are buried here in the chapel.
The Morgans of Machen were part of the great landowning Morgan dynasty of Tredegar which can be traced back to the early 14th century in Monmouthshire. Thomas Morgan was the first to be called 'of Machen'; he was Esquire to the Body of Henry VII. He built Plas Machen in 1490, a substantial Grade II* listed Elizabethan manor house, a short distance away. Plas Machen was the original Morgan family home in Machen until about 1672 when the family moved to Tredegar House. William Morgan of Machen (d1680), his wife Blanch (died c1673) and their infant son Edward (d1672) are the earliest recorded Morgan family burials at St Michael’s.
We have family history research with parish registers dating back to 1671 and visitors can enjoy digital trails and information using their own smartphone or with tablets provided.