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Reordering

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In 2016 the Chancellor had granted a faculty for reordering works including the replacement of the pews with chairs. He had declined to approve upholstered chairs, but approved the introduction of unupholstered chairs. The petitioners now sought, after much research and consultation, an amendment of the 2016 faculty to authorise a different type of upholstered chair with upholstered seats and upholstered back pads within a wooden frame. The Chancellor concluded that "as the chairs are to have wooden frames and those frames are to have a dark stain applied to them, the additional visual impact of upholstered back pad, though real, will be modest. That additional impact is outweighed by the benefits to be obtained and by the fact that such chairs are the clear preference of the worshipping community after what I accept has been careful consideration of the alternatives." He therefore directed that the faculty granted in 2016 be amended accordingly.

The petition related to the south transept of the Grade I church and the installation of underfloor heating beneath a new stone floor; the provision of a discreet tea point; and the introduction of heritage boards. The historic memorial slabs laid into the floor would be left in situ, covered by the heating elements and the new floor. The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings entered an objection and became a party opponent. The Chancellor dismissed the petition. He took the view that the proposals were unlikely to achieve what the parish seemed to want, namely, to heat the whole church which is ‘intolerably cold’ for several months of the year. The proposed underfloor heating in the south transept would only provide a partial solution, and one which would be largely compromised due to the inability to isolate the south transept as a sealed environment.

The proposals were to replace the pews with metal-framed, upholstered chairs; removal of the clergy stalls; and alterations to floor levels and the heating installation. The Victorian Society indicated that it would not oppose the removal of the pews if appropriate wooden, unupholstered chairs were to be provided by way of replacement. A private objector objected to the removal of the clergy stalls and the pews. The Deputy Commissary General dismissed the petition. He determined that the removal of all of the Victorian pews would adversely affect the character of the Victorian church. He also did not consider that the replacement steel-framed, upholstered chairs would be likely to be an appropriate replacement for the pews in this particular church, if the pews were to be removed.

The works proposed comprised a number of non-contentious repairs and a major reordering. The reordering included the creation of toilet facilities at the north-west porch and the creation of a two-storey 'pod' in the north transept, to accommodate two meeting rooms; an area for children and parents during services; a servery area for refreshments; a space for community use; a small enclosable room for counselling; and two offices for clergy use. Historic England and the Victorian Society had objections and reservations about these items, but did not become parties opponent. The Chancellor was satisfied that it was appropriate to grant a faculty, stating that, "the need for these facilities, and the benefits respectively enuring to them, are sufficient to justify this intrusion on the character and significance of the building as a whole."

There were various re- ordering proposals for the unlisted church. The main objections were to the removal of ten pews and their replacement with folding chairs, and also to safety aspects of the proposed kitchen facilities. The Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioners had made out their case and directed the issue of a faculty.

The Chancellor granted a faculty for reordering within a 19th century proprietary chapel, which has only relatively recently become subject to faculty jurisdiction. The chapel was built to cater for the bargees and seamen who worked in or visited the dockland area of Gloucester. The works included a glass outer door; removal of pews; new lighting and heating; a kitchen unit/servery; a disabled toilet; and monitors and a sound system. Certain items were not approved.

The Deputy Chancellor granted a confirmatory faculty for the removal and disposal of seven pews, which were removed without faculty in 2011 in order to provide a children’s area, a display, a welcome area and the extension of the dais, but he required that the pew frontals removed at the same time were returned to the church.

There had been a scheme for reordering parts of the church, most of which had already been approved by the Chancellor. The only outstanding item was the proposed introduction of carpets in the nave. The Diocesan Advisory Committee was of the opinion that carpet was not appropriate for a Grade II* church, "being too domestic in appearance". Historic England (though it did not wish to be a party opponent) objected that the introduction of carpet would be harmful to the significance of the building. The Chancellor was however satisfied that the petitioners had made out a good case for the introduction of carpet and did not feel that it would have the adverse impact claimed by Heritage England. He therefore granted a faculty.

A faculty was sought to allow the introduction into the Abbey of a diptych, one part of which portrays St. Ethelflaeda, one of the patron saints of the Abbey; the other part of the diptych depicts a candlestick. The Statement of Significance submitted by the Petitioners said that the painting was designed “to be challenging and controversial”, and to encourage “members of the congregation and visitors alike to contemplate the serenity of the abbess’s face and reflect on our own faith and spirituality”. There were 15 objectors, who did not become parties opponent. Objections included: the painting lacks artistic merit; it does not “enhance or beautify the Abbey in any way” and is “ugly”; “The ‘Saint’ is sinister and anatomically impossible and the candlestick, as often commented… looks like a giraffe neck”; the painting is not edifying/spiritually beneficial; it is “dark and disturbing”, “grotesque” ... and “raises nothing but horror”; it detracts from the architecture of the Abbey. The Chancellor decided to grant a faculty: "those who find the painting beautiful, helpful and spiritually uplifting can continue to benefit from its presence, and it can continue to play a part in the Abbey’s outreach and mission. Those who are disturbed or displeased by it need not dwell on its presence.  It seems to me that the Abbey is a large enough space, physically and spiritually, to accommodate both camps."

The petitioners sought a faculty for the permanent removal of some pews and the installation of a fitted carpet in the south west corner of the church. These works had previously been authorised by archdeacon's licence, and the petition sought to make permanent this temporary experiment. English Heritage commended the project and the Victorian Society did not wish to comment. The Chancellor took into account two letters of objection from parishioners. Faculty granted.