Neutral Citations

On 23 December 2015, the Dean of Arches issued a Practice Note requesting Diocesan Registrars to allocate a neutral citation to each Consistory Court judgment. A revised version of the original Practice Note was issued on 27 April 2016. Both Practice Notes can be downloading by clicking on these links:
Practice Note No. 1 of 2015
Practice Note No. 1 of 2016
Neutral citations are only being applied to judgments from 1 January 2016. Prior to that date, the ELA's own method of citation was used.

Those submitting judgments should not that a neutral citation number should appear in the top left corner of a judgment, in the format set out in Practice Note 1 above.

Judgments are as supplied by the relevant Diocesan Registries, but we cannot guarantee that there have been no subsequent minor amendments which have not been communicated to us. Anyone wishing to quote from a judgment should check with the relevant Diocesan or Provincial Registrar that the version on this web site is the final version.

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Re St. Francis of Assisi Bournemouth [2020] ECC Win 1

The proposal was to install an audio-visual system in the church, to include a number of retractable screens and a camera. There were three letters of objection, stating that the screens would be detrimental to the character of the Grade II 20th century church; there was no need for permanent screens; the financial cost was not justified; and there were concerns about privacy and data protection. The Chancellor was satisfied that there was a genuine need for the screens and that what was proposed was the best option. He therefore granted a faculty.

Re St. Nicholas Haxey [2019] ECC Lin 3

The petitioners wished to increase the number of bells in the tower from 6 to 10, or alternatively to 8. The original 6 are heavy, precluding most women and young people from ringing them. For a number of reasons, the Chancellor had reservations about the proposals and refused to grant a faculty as sought, suggesting that the petitioners should seek a revised scheme and revised quotation from the bell-founders.

Re St. Leonard Alton [2019] ECC Lic 10

The petitioner wished to place a memorial on the grave of his late wife. The Diocesan Advisory Committee did not approve of the design, a bronze plaque on a rough-hewn, wedge-shaped, local stone, as not befitting the setting. It also considered the inscription (which included a verse by Byron) too lengthy and over-personal. The Chancellor saw no reason to disallow the design of the memorial, but was concerned about the inscription. He determined to grant a faculty, subject to the Petitioner agreeing a suggested alternative inscription set out in the judgment, omitting the proposed verse or including an alternative verse from Holy Scripture or classical Christian poetry or hymnody.

Re St. Bartholomew Tong [2019] ECC Lic 9

The priest in charge and churchwardens wished to introduce oak screening and cupboards at the east end of the north aisle of the church, to provide a storage area for chairs and other items. There was one letter of objection, the objection being that if the storage area was constructed at the east end of the church, it would preclude the proposed installation in that area of a proposed toilet and kitchen facility. The petitioners' considered response was that the west end was the better option for that. The Chancellor was satisfied that a good case had been made for the proposal and granted a faculty.

Re St. John the Baptist Ashley [2020] ECC Lic 1

The petitioner, a non-parishioner, wished to reserve a grave space in the churchyard for herself and her partner, next to the plot in which her father was buried. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty. There were only 50 available spaces, and burials averaged 7 a year. The petitioner, aged 31, was unlikely to die before the remaining spaces were required within about 7 years' time by those legally entitled to be buried in the churchyard, and so a reservation would prevent parishioners being buried in the remaining spaces.

Re All Saints Barrowby [2019] ECC Lin 1

The ashes of the father of the petitioners were interred in 2013. The intention of the family was that in due time the petitioners' mother's ashes would be interred in the same grave plot. After the petitioners' mother died and the grave of their father was reopened, it was found that the grave was too shallow to take a second interment, and the mothers ashes had to be interred in a plot a few rows away. The petitioners now wished to have their mother's ashes exhumed and reinterred in a grave next to their father's grave. The Chancellor determined that there had been a 'mistake' in that the father's grave had been dug too shallow, which had frustrated the intentions of the family. He therefore decided that this was an exceptional situation where a faculty could be granted for exhumation and reinterment.

Re St. Botolph Boston [2019] ECC Lin 2

The proposal was for two new glass porches, at the north and south entrances of the Grade I church. There was an issue about the north porch. Historic England felt that the new woodwork should reflect the woodwork in the rest of the church, whereas the petitioners favoured a design to match the woodwork of the adjacent shop and servery in the north-west corner of the church. The Chancellor considered that the wordwork of the new north porch should relate to the modern design of the adjacent servery, and he granted a faculty accordingly.

Re St. George Kidderminster [2019] ECC Wor 4

There was an application for a confirmatory faculty in respect of an illuminated cross placed on the western face of the church tower two years previously, under an Archdeacon's Licence for Temporary Reordering (a procedure which the Chancellor considered inappropriate). The Chancellor decided to grant a faculty for a term of 5 years, subject to consent being obtained under the Advertising Regulations, and subject to the cross being illuminated on not more that 28 days in each calendar year, with leave to apply for further extensions of 5 years, without the need for a further faculty petition.

Re St. Mary Earlham [2019] ECC Nor 3

The Grade I church stands close to the University of East Anglia. It has what the Chancellor described as a "depressing" interior and a "a tiny congregation that is unlikely to grow". The proposal was for a major reordering with a view to attracting usage of the church by University students. A large donation was available to meet the cost of the proposed works. Historic England had concerns about (inter alia) the proposals for the flooring and the pews. The Victorian Society objected, principally, to the levelling of the floors and the replacement of the pews with chairs. The Chancellor was satisfied that a good case had been made for the proposals and granted a faculty.

Re St. Nicholas Gayton [2019] ECC Nor 4

The reordering proposals for the Grade I church included: (a) removal and disposal of all pews, except five older 'pauper' pews to the west end of the north aisle; (b) introduction of upholstered chairs; (c) repairs to the nave floor; (d) replacement of existing carpet; (e) installation of an oak storage unit; and (f) replacement of the overhead heaters. The Victorian Society argued that the removal of all the pews would adversely affect the visual impact of the interior, and it had concerns about upholstered chairs. However, the evidence was that the pews were of poor quality wood and were riddled with worm and unrepairable. The Chancellor granted a faculty on the understanding that only the seats of the proposed chairs would be upholstered and in a neutral colour.

Re St. Michael and All Angels Brimington [2019] ECC Der 5

The petition contained two proposals: (1) upgrading of the heating system, including demolishing a disused chimney stack; and (2) replacement of the pews with chairs. The rear portion of pews had been replaced with chairs in 2007. It was proposed that the heavier existing chairs would be brought to the front of the nave and any new stackable seating (the type proposed being the 'Alpha' chair) would be deployed behind. The Chancellor determined that the pews were not of major historic significance and that the needs of the worshipping congregation would be better served by modern, flexible seating, that would also allow wider use of the building by other groups and organisations. He therefore granted a faculty.

Re All Saints Mickleover [2019] ECC Der 6

The proposals were to replace the pews with upholstered chairs; new floor coverings; a servery; and a disabled access toilet and baby-changing area. Historic England did not favour the complete removal of the Victorian pews and had concerns about the choice of chair. The Deputy Chancellor granted a faculty for the items, providing that the stackable chairs to replace the pews in the north aisle should be Howe 40/4 unupholstered chairs, and the two back nave pews shoud be put into storage.

Re All Saints Kirk Hallam [2019] ECC Der 7

The priest-in-charge and churchwardens wished to transfer permanently to the Erewash Museum the remains of a corroded wrought iron ‘Anglo-Saxon sword/weaving-batten’. This item had been discovered whilst a grave was being dug in about 2006. The Chancellor determined that the item, once removed from the ground, became a 'moveable' of the church and, as such, legally vested in the churchwardens. He also decided that the item was not a 'church treasure', as defined by the Court of Arches, and he was not therefore obliged to follow the advice of the appellate court to hold a hearing. (See Re Shipton Bellinger [2016] Fam 193, para. 23) The Chancellor granted a faculty.

Re St. Bartholomew Aldbrough [2019] ECC Yor 7

The proposals were: (1) Repositioning of the font and removal of its plinth; and (2)    removal of eight pews from the north aisle to create a usable community space. The plinth was not original to the font and was regarded as a trip hazard. The church was the only community facility in the village. The Chancellor regarded the pine pews as having no intrinsic significance in themselves and he granted a faculty for all the works.

Re All Hallows Ordsall [2019] ECC S&N 1

The Chancellor was asked to grant a confirmatory faculty in respect of cremated remains which had already been exhumed (with a view to their subsequently being scattered) following the issue of a Ministry of Justice licence, which should not have issued, because the remains were interred in consecrated ground. The Chancellor granted a faculty: "Refusing a Faculty would certainly be justified in principle, but would serve no useful purpose, and would cause and maintain offence. Granting a Faculty would render lawful what has so far been unlawful; and would regularise the present situation, which there is in any event no practical possibility of changing." The Chancellor pointed out that at the time of writing his judgment the form of application for a licence and the notes for guidance on the Ministry of Justice web site were out of date following changes to the law in 2015.

Re St. John the Baptist Bilborough [2019] ECC S&N 2

There was a proposal for reordering in the unlisted church, built in the 1950s, to include removal of the black and white composite tiles and laying of carpet; replacement of the pews with chairs; and removal of two prayer desks. At a site visit the Chancellor saw that the floor tiles had already been removed and replaced with carpet, the pews had been removed, and there was a mixture of upholstered chairs in poor condition. Notwithstanding the unlawfulness of the works being carried our without prior lawful authority, the Chancellor was satisfied that the church would be enhanced by the proposed changes. He granted a faculty for all the works (except for the removal of one of the prayer desks), providing for the chairs already in the church to be replaced with 110 Vesta stacking chairs, with chrome frames and upholstery in a pewter colour.

Re The Holy Saviour Bitterne [2019] ECC Win 3

Extensive reordering was proposed, including an extension to the church;a mezzanine floor and glazed screen within the church; and the replacement of pews with wooden chairs. There were four parties opponent and the Victorian Society submitted a written objection. The Chancellor granted a faculty subject to conditions (inter alia) that the stone floor should not be covered with wooden flooring, and the poppy-headed stalls should be retained.

Re St. Mary Liss [2019] ECC Por 2

The petition proposed a reordering of the chancel, to include extending the chancel floor level a short distance into the nave and to provide new altar rails. The Victorian Society objected to the proposed removal of the pulpit and the removal of the iron railings and alabaster-faced walls which separated the chancel from the nave. The Chancellor concluded that the removal of the features concerned would cause moderate harm to the significance of the building as a place of historical interest, but that the harm would be outweighed by the public benefits of providing a more open, unimpeded and flexible space to meet the worship, mission and community needs of the parish.

Re Patricia Bessie Sharp deceased [2019] ECC Por 3

In 1997 the deceased had requested the reservation of the grave at the foot of the grave of her late husband. Owing to an administrative mistake the wrong plot number was allocated, but the deceased did not realise that the grave number was incorrect. At the funeral, the family realised that the grave for the deceased had been dug in the wrong place, but felt unable to do other than proceed with the funeral. They subsequently sought a faculty for exhumation and reinterment in the intended grave. The Chancellor was satisfied that a genuine mistake had been made, which could be regarded as an exception to the presumption of permanence of burial. He therefore granted a faculty for exhumation and reinterment, in order to correct the error.

Re All Saints Freshwater [2019] ECC Por 4

There were five applications to exhume human remains. The graves had been undermined by the collapse of a badger sett following heavy rains. The Chancellor granted faculties for the remains to be exhumed and reinterred in a part of the churchyard away from the badger sett.

Re St. Mary Syderstone [2019] ECC Nor 1

The incumbent refused to approve the use of the words "Dad" and "Grandad" in the inscription for a  memorial, the reason given being that the parochial church councils of the benefice had agreed, in a written policy, that (inter alia) only the words "Father" and "Grandfather" should be used on memorials. The Chancellor could find no real justification for this policy and granted a faculty to authorise the use of the words "Dad" and "Grandad", which she did not find objectionable. (Although not a reason for the decision, it is noted in the judgment that 15 inscriptions on memorials in the churchyard used the words “Dad” or “Grandad” and there were 12 examples which showed use of female equivalents, such as “Mum” or “Nan”.)

Re St. Nicholas East Dereham [2019] ECC Nor 2

The cremated remains of a child who died within hours of a premature birth in the 1980s had been interred in the churchyard. The petitioners (the father of the child and his three daughters) wished to have the remains exhumed with a view to them being reinterred in the father's garden. The father's wife had expressed a wish before her death to be buried in the garden with the remains of her deceased child. The Chancellor could find no justification for allowing the exhumation and reinterment of the child's remains as proposed, but he granted a faculty authorising exhumation, provided that permission could be obtained for the remains of the child and both parents to be interred in the churchyard of the church where the mother's funeral had been conducted or in some other consecrated ground.

Re All Saints Preston [2019] ECC Yor 10

The petitioners wished to construct a timber-framed, self-contained chapel, in the north aisle of the church, which could be heated economically, the replacement of the failed Victorian heating system being too costly. The Chancellor granted a faculty, being satisfied that the benefits would outweigh the harm to the special architectural and historic interest of the Grade I listed church. Also, the structure would not alter the fabric into which it was inserted and could be easily removed in the future.

Re Sutton Cemetery [2019] ECC Swk 6

The petitioner wished to exhume the cremated remains of his late wife from Sutton Cemetery and reinter them at the North East Surrey Crematorium in Morden. He had agreed to his wife's ashes being interred at Sutton in the grave of his wife's mother and grandmother. The Petitioner expected that he too could have his ashes buried with those of his wife in due course. However, owing to a rift between the petitioner and his wife's sisters, the sisters would not agree to the petitioner's ashes being buried with those of his wife. The Chancellor decided that this was an exceptional case where he could grant a faculty for exhumation and reinterment, so that the petitioner's ashes could be buried in the same grave as the ashes of his wife in due time.

Re St. Saviour Upper Sunbury [2019] ECC Lon 1

The Chancellor granted a faculty for the demolition of some unsightly temporary structures at the east end of the unlisted church and their replacement with permanent brick built structures to accommodate a commercial kitchen, a crèche, lavatories and a food bank.

Re St. Oswald Filey [2019] ECC Yor 8

During the parish priest's absence, whilst attending a course, a burial took place in the closed churchyard. Prior to his absence, the priest had told the funeral director and the family that a burial could not take place, unless in accordance with one of the exceptions in the Order in Council closing the churchyard for burials, namely: (1) where a grave had been reserved by faculty; (2) where a person could be buried in the same grave as a relative. (Also, cremated remains can be buried in a closed churchyard.) The funeral director arranged for the deceased to be buried next to the deceased's brother in a tight space between two graves. The Chancellor determined that the interment was unlawful, and could not be made lawful retrospectively by the Ministry of Justice or the court, but he decided that no action should be taken to disturb the burial or to refer the matter for police investigation.

Re St. Mary the Virgin Headley [2019] ECC Gui 3

The Chancellor granted a faculty for an extension to the church to provide a Church Room, Historic England and the Victorian Society having indicated that they had no objections to the proposal.

Re Gravesend Cemetery [2019] ECC Roc 6

A husband and wife sought permission to exhume the cremated remains of the wife's father ("the deceased"), who died in 1982, from the consecrated part of Gravesend Cemetery with a view to the remains being scattered in the Thames View Crematorium along with the cremated remains of the deceased's late wife, who had recently died. The Chancellor could find no special circumstance which would justify him in granting a faculty.

Re St. James Church Kirk [2019] ECC Bla 4

Blackburn Diocesan Board of Finance wished to transfer to Lancashire Museum Services a bell from the church, which had been closed four years previously. A local MP wrote to the Diocesan Registry to say that the bell should be retained in the church because a local group, the Church Kirk Regeneration Trust ("CKRT"), was in the process of completing an assessment of the site, after which they intended to develop proposals for the use of the church building. The Chancellor decided that the matter should not be left open indefinitely. He therefore made an order that the bell should be transferred to the Museum on loan for an interim period expiring on 31 December 2021. Three months before the expiry of the period, CKRT should submit written proposals for the bell for a further decision by the Chancellor. In the absence of any proposals, the bell should remain permanently with the Museum.

Re St. Margaret Hornby [2019] ECC Bla 5

The petitioners wished to replace stolen roof lead and the remaining lead covering with a GRP (fibreglass) product. The Diocesan Advisory Committee, Historic England, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Church Buildings Council objected to GRP being used to replace the whole of the lead from the roof of the Grade I listed church. The Chancellor took the view that the petitioners had failed to produce a clear, logical and convincing cased for the proposed works and he refused to grant a faculty.

Re St. Peter & St. Paul Muchelney [2019] ECC B&W 2

There was no suitable place within the church to construct a toilet, which would provide disabled access. It was therefore proposed to construct a free-standing disabled toilet adjacent to the east side of the north porch of the church, with associated water, drainage and electrical connections. There were letters of objection from five parishioners. The main objection related to the location of the proposed structure. The Chancellor was satisfied that the provision of a disabled toilet was appropriate and that the location to the east of the north porch would be the least problematic within the site. He therefore granted a faculty.

Re St. Mary Bridlington [2019] ECC Yor 9

The rector and churchwardens wished to remove to the diocesan furnishing store or to dispose of by sale the ebonised wooden altar cross (date of installation unknown) on the dossal shelf of the reredos, as the cross partly obscured the Agnus Dei design of the reredos by George Gilbert Scott. Letters of objection were received from several parishioners. The Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioners had made out a case for their proposal, and he accordingly granted a faculty.

Re St. Paul Quarndon [2019] ECC Der 8

The petitioners wished to replace the existing cast-iron sectional rainwater guttering of the church with continuous extruded black anodised aluminium, in order to prevent further water ingress to the church. The Society for the Protection of Ancient Building did not approve the use of aluminium. However, the Chancellor granmted a faculty.

Re St. Barbara Ashton-under-Hill [2019] ECC Wor 3

There was a proposal to install a toilet and kitchen facilities at the western end of the church, with associated water supply and drainage. Some further pew removal was also proposed. Historic England did not support the kitchen proposals. The proposed insertion of an extractor fan into a glass panel of the door into the tower concerned the Diocesan Advisory Committee and the Local Planning Authority. The Chancellor granted a faculty for the new toilet and associated water and drainage (to be treated as Phase 1), and considered that the parish should reconsider the remaining items (Phase 2).

Re St. Bartholomew Naunton Beauchamp [2019] ECC Wor 5

The petitioner wished to have the ashes of her mother exhumed and scattered over the hills north of Newtown in Powys. The ashes had been buried in the churchyard at Naunton Beauchamp, at the insistence of the petitioner's former sister-in-law. All the deceased's other children recalled their mother expressing a wish to have her ashes scattered in Wales, and they supported the petitioner's wish. Whilst accpting that this was a borderline case for allowing an exhumation as an exception to the general rule against disturbing human remains, the Chanmcellor decided to grant a faculty to the petitioner: ' ... whilst it is “generally” right that mourners should learn to let go, it appears that she will be unable to do so until her mother’s ashes have been scattered as proposed; only then, it seems to me, will she be able to recover her psychological and spiritual health.'

Re St. Barnabas Drakes Broughton [2019] ECC Wor 6

There was a proposal to fell two yew trees in the churchyard and to reduce the height of three other yew trees. A neighbour argued that the felling of one of the trees would affect the amenity of his house. The petitioners said they wished to have the two trees removed in anticipation of building an extension to the church. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the felling of the first two trees. The petitioners would have to make a case for the removal of the trees if and when they submitted a petition for an extension to the church. However, he granted a faculty for the reduction in height of the other three trees.  

Re St. James Burton Lazars [2019] ECC Lei 1

The petitioner's wife died in February 2018 and her body had been cremated. Her ashes had not been interred in the Garden of Remembrance in the churchyard. The Church had its own set of churchyards regulations, approved by faculty, which prohibited memorials to mark the interment of cremated remains. In April 2018, the petitioner reserved a grave for himself in the churchyard. He now wished to have a tablet in memory of his wife placed either on the grave he had reserved for himself, in anticipation of his wife being buried in the reserved grave after he himself had been buried in it, or on a cremation plot in the Garden of Remembrance, if his wife's ashes were buried there. The Chancellor refused a faculty, as he did not feel that the Petitioner had made a good case for an exception to the church's churchyard regulations. He pointed out, inter alia, that a memorial to the petitioner and his wife could be erected on the reserved grave after the petitioner's body and his wife's ashes had both been buried in it.

Re St. John the Baptist Halesowen [2019] ECC Wor 7

The proposals included: (1) replacing the iron gates to the porch with glazed sliding doors; (2) new porch lighting and glazing of one porch window to match the other; (3) relocation of the internal 1906 wooden lobby to the west end of the south aisle and its conversion to storage space; and (4) removal of a pew in the south aisle to allow the relocation of the lobby; and (5)) replacement of the ramp inside the lobby with a new ramp with handrails. The Chancellor granted a faculty for items (1) and (2), but not item (3) (the relocation of the lobby) as proposed, in consequence of which items (4) and (5) were not approved.

Re St. Clement Oxford [2019] ECC Oxf 5

A major reordering was proposed. The Victorian Society objected to the central pews in the nave being made moveable and to the proposal to replace the aisle pews with upholstered chairs. The Society also argued that some of the pew doors, removed at some time within the past 50 years without authority, should be reinstated. The Chancellor was satisfied that a case had been made for making the nave pews moveable, but made it a condition of the faculty that doors should be replaced on three rows of pews. He also approved the proposed replacement of the aisle pews with upholstered chairs, as well as the other items of reordering.