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Reordering

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The Associate Rector and Churchwardens petitioned for the removal of the nave and aisle pews. The church has no associated church hall and was seeking to adapt its building for use for both community and church-based activities. Objections were received from two private individuals, and concerns were expressed by the Victorian Society, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Local Planning authority, all of whom suggested alternative proposals involving the retention of some pews. The Deputy Chancellor made it clear that it was not for the objectors to put forward alternative proposals, but for the Chancellor to decide whether a convincing case had been made out for the actual proposals in the petition. Faculty granted.

The petition sought approval for major re-ordering, including the replacement of the pews with chairs. Faculty granted. Applying the principles laid down in Re St. Alkmund, Duffield [2013] Fam 158, the Chancellor was satisfied that there was clear and convincing justification for carrying out the proposals.

The petitioners wished to remove seven rows of pews in the north aisle of the church and replace them with some existing upholstered chairs in storage, in order to allow a more flexible use of the space. The Victorian Society objected that the upholstered chairs were not suitable for the Grade I listed church. The Chancellor concluded that the introduction of the chairs would cause only moderate harm to the church, and that this harm would be outweighed by the resulting public benefit. He accordingly granted a faculty.

The Vicar and Churchwardens requested a faculty for the disposal of a tenor bell dated 1600, which became redundant when a new set of six bells was installed in 2009. The proposal was that the bell should be sold to a local arts charity, which had used the bell with the permission of the Chancellor as a centrepiece for an arts festival in Folkestone, and that conditions should be imposed onteh sale that if no longer required by the arts charity, the bell should not be scrapped or exported, but should be offered to a museum, and in default of a museum being willing to take it, the bell should be given to Taylor's bell foundry in Loughborough. The Chancellor considered that such conditions imposed on a sale would be unenforceable, and suggested that the petitioner's consider applying for a faculty to simply lend the bell to the Folkestone arts charity.

The Chancellor authorised the removal of a block of pews from the north-west corner on the Grade II* Victorian church, in order to allow the installation of a disabled toilet and a servery.

The proposals were for a reordering of the north aisle by removing the pews and lowering the Victorian softwood timber pew platforms to the same level as the ceramic tiled gangways, to create a large area for multi-functional use. Provision was to be made for the installation of a servery and cupboards, and for the area to be rewired and a new lighting system installed. The petition contained no proposals for replacing the removed pews with chairs. The Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioners had made a case for the reordering, but declined to grant a faculty until the design, make and number of replacement chairs for the north aisle had been approved by the court.

The Chancellor granted a faculty for the replacement of the pews in the centre of the church nave and the chairs in the north and south aisles with new wooden chairs having upholstered seats and backs. The judgment contains a discussion by the Chancellor on the nature of the Church Buildings Council Guidance on Seating and its application.

The Chancellor granted a faculty to allow the pews in the nave to be replaced with chairs, subject to the chairs being stained to match the other furniture in the Abbey.

The Dean of Arches refused the Victorian Society leave to appeal against the decision of the Chancellor of the Diocese to allow the replacement of the Abbey's nave pews with chairs.

Decision on costs in respect of the Re Bath Abbey [2018] EACC 1.