Judgment Search

Reordering

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Faculty sought for the conversion of the existing vestry into a toilet and tea-point, together with the provision of vestry facilities within the base of the tower. Objections to conversion of the vestry received. Faculty granted.

There were two petitions seeking to carry out substantial reordering in the church. The Georgian Group and the Victorian Society had objections, but did not become parties opponent. There were no other objections. The proposals included: clearing the existing furniture from the chancel and placing a new altar in the middle of the chancel, with new furniture around it; removal of a number of rows of pews; replacing the organ; creating a narthex/hall area. The Chancellor was satisfied that the need for the scheme outweighed any harm it would cause to the building, and he therefore granted a faculty.

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.

There was a petition by the Vicar and Churchwardens seeking permission to convert a fixed lavabo in the sanctuary of a nineteenth century church for use as an aumbry. The Chancellor granted a Faculty. Although the petition was unopposed, the Chancellor decided to give a detailed written judgment, in order to explain his reasoning, particularly with regard to the questions raised in the Court of Arches judgment Re St. Alkmund Duffield, and their application to the subject matter of the present petition.

A faculty had already been granted for the carrying out of an extensive reordering. This included the removal of an Edwardian font. The present proposal was to place a medieval font where the Edwardian font stood. Faculty granted. The Chancellor considered what should be done with the Edwardian font, pursuant to the first petition, which included in the schedule of works the burial of the Edwardian font where it stood. The Chancellor decided that it was not appropriate to bury the Edwardian font, but that it should be re-sited in another part of the church. The judgment contains a brief discussion about whether a church can have two fonts. The first petition was amended to delete the proposal to bury the Edwardian font.

Having been through a period of decline, the Grade II* listed church had been revitalised in recent years, with 300 people attending weekly to worship in an evangelical style. The Petitioners wished to carry out a major reordering in stages, to create a multi-functional space for the church and the wider community. The first stage of the reordering involved the replacement of the pews with chairs, a servery and the moving of the font from near the main church door. The chair proposed was an Alpha SB2M", with a chromed metal frame and an upholstered seat and back. Most of the amenity societies consulted objected to the taking out of the pews and replacement with the proposed style of chair. The Victorian Society was a party opponent. The Chancellor was satisfied that a case had been made out for the servery and the replacement of the pews with the chosen chairs, and granted a faculty, but he did not consider that an adequate case had been made for the moving of the font.

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.