Located in the small, pretty conservation village of Lower Machen, the church Is believed to have been founded during the Celtic period in the 6th century. The Grade II* listed church of St Michael's is first mentioned in documentary evidence in 1102. The 19th century cast iron entrance gates and late medieval cross in the churchyard are both Grade II listed. The church, which is renowned for its fine acoustics, hosts the internationally famous Lower Machen Music Festival.
The Grade II* listing of the church is due to the elegant Morgan Chapel, with its particularly notable family monuments. The chapel is entered through elaborately decorated black & 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 are buried here in the chapel.
The Morgans of Machen were part of the great landowning Morgan dynasty of Tredegar who 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 Morgan’s original family in Machen until about 1672 when the family moved to Tredegar House The nave at St Michael's houses probably the largest collection of hatchments in Wales. There are 11 hatchments all of which relate to the direct Morgan line or their close relatives.
The churchyard is Grade 11 listed as it has the base of a medieval preaching cross on a stepped plinth, the cross was probably destroyed during the 16th or 17th centuries. It is very old indeed. According to Gerald of Monmouth, at this very spot at St Michael’s, Archbishop Baldwin of Canterbury while on his journey through Wales in 1188, preached in support of King Richard the Lionheart’s Third Crusade to the Holy Land. Many years later, John Wesley preached here in English, on Friday 16th October 1741, during his third visit to Wales.