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Reordering

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A substantial internal reordering was proposed for a Grade II* listed church, as well as extensive external works. There were objections from the Victorian Society and several individuals, none of whom sought to be parties opponent. The principal objection of all the objectors was to the removal of the pews (to be replaced with upholstered chairs). The pews were installed in 1952, to replace the former pews destroyed by bomb damage to the church during the Second World War. The Chancellor was "satisfied that the benefits that are potentially available significantly outweigh [the] detriment and that the interests of this church in terms of its remaining a living entity for generations to come requires change rather than no change." Faculty granted.

The proposed reordering included re-plastering and redecoration; reordering of the west end of the nave by the creation of an enclosed, separately heated, community area and associated kitchen facilities; re-location of the font; relocation of a memorial; removal of the rear row of nave pews; and the addition of glass doors at the main entrance of the Church. The most controversial element was the proposed new meeting room at the west end of the church. The Victorian Society maintained that it would not harmonise with the rest of the church building. However, the Deputy Chancellor determined that the petitioners had made a clear and convincing justification for the proposed works. He accordingly granted a faculty.

The petition comprised two proposals for the Grade II Victorian church: firstly, "a relatively modest re-ordering of the north aisle and related works" and, secondly, the formation of a car park. There was one objector, who chose not to become a party opponent. Applying the approach of the Court of Arches in Re St Alkmund Duffield [2013] Fam 158, the Chancellor was satisfied that the works, if implemented, would not result in harm to the significance of the church as a building of special architectural or historic interest.

Proposals for reordering related principally to the south aisle of the church, which is wider than the nave. The church has a Grade I listing, and is described as "heavily pewed". The main proposal was to remove the pews from the south aisle and replace them with stackable, chrome-framed, upholstered chairs, in order to provide greater and more flexible use of the south aisle, the church not having a church hall. The Chancellor was satisfied that the benefits to the church of replacing the pews outweighed any harm caused by their, and therefore granted a faculty for the replacement of the pews. However, he did not grant permission for chrome-framed chairs, but approved stackable Howe 40/4 chairs in oak frames, which had been considered as an alternative, but were more expensive. Appended to the judgment are further directions regarding the approval of Theo oak stacking chairs made by Chorus.

The faculty petition proposed the disposal of a wooden lectern. The petitioning churchwarden stated that the lectern was not being used, was unlikely to be used again, and was merely taking up space. The lectern bore an inscription to say that it had been given by a significant benefactor of the church in memory of her brother, who was a priest, but who had spent no part of his ministry in the parish. He had died in 1925. The Church Buildings Council recommended that, ‘as a good furnishing that has a long association with the church, this should be retained. The Council recognised it was redundant in terms of use but deemed it to be a high quality item and of interest as a memorial.’ The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty.

There were extensive proposals for restoration of and improvements to the Grade I listed church. There were five objectors, but none were parties opponent. The church contains a scheme of paintings on plaster panels, lining the nave and chancel walls, executed in 1941-42 by Duncan Grant and Quentin and Vanessa Bell. One of the concerns was as to the conservation of the paintings. The Deputy Chancellor was satisfied however that adequate expert advice was being sought about the conservation work. Another item of contention was the retention of the front pipework of the old organ, which was being replaced by a digital organ. The petitioners argued that this would provide a sense of continuity with the previous organ arrangements. The Deputy Chancellor was satisfied with all the proposals and granted a faculty.

The proposals were for a major re-ordering. The local authority objected to one aspect of the scheme, namely the removal and burial of the existing font. Historic England expressed a reservation about the proposals for the new font. Neither objector wished to be a party opponent. The Chancellor came to the conclusion that the better course in this particular case would be to place the old font into storage, and a faculty for the re-ordering scheme was granted on this basis. The judgment contains a review of recent decisions relating to the disposal of fonts.

The petition proposed several items of reordering. The only contentious item was the removal of the Victorian font, which had not been used for many years. A Georgian font in the church is normally used for baptisms, owing to lack of sufficient space for families around the Victorian font. Following the removal of the font it was proposed to use the space as an area for children. The Victorian font would be placed either outside the church, or alternatively an offer could be accepted for it to be stored in Maxstoke Castle. Historic England and the Victorian Society did not favour placing the font in the churchyard, but they did not become parties opponent. The Chancellor granted a faculty, but required evidence to be obtained as to whether the placing of the font in the churchyard would result in severe damage due to weathering, in which case the Chancellor would direct that the font be stored in Maxstoke Castle.

Faculty granted for WC and buffet bar in the north-west corner of the church, even though the work would result in a restricted view of a stained glass window.

The petition proposed an extensive re-ordering of the church, including an extension to the north side of the church, to house WCs and a room for boilers; glazed doors for the porch; a new floor with underfloor heating; replacement of pews with chairs; re-siting of the rood screen and font; replacing the organ; new lighting; and creating a new kitchen with meeting room over it. The acting Deputy Chancellor approved the proposals, except for outer glazed doors to the porch (whilst allowing inner glazed doors), the creation of a meeting room above the new kitchen, and the introduction of steel framed chairs with wooden seats and backs, but indicating that he would approve all-wood stacking chairs.