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Reordering

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The petitioners wished to remove the Victorian pews from a Grade II* listed church and replace them with wooden upholstered chairs. The Victorian Society and Historic England both accepted that the pews were of no particular merit, but objected to them being replaced with upholstered chairs, though they did not wish to be parties opponent. The Chancellor granted a faculty for the removal of the pews, on condition that the replacement chairs should be unupholstered and of a design to be agreed between the petitioners and the Diocesan Advisory Committee, and in default of such agreement to be decided by the Court.

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 petitioners wished to replace all the nave pews with chairs, level the floor and install underfloor heating and carpet the nave. The Chancellor granted a faculty.

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.

Faculty granted for major re-ordering of a Grade 1 listed church. Principles laid down in Re St. Alkmund Duffield [2012] (Court of Arches) considered.

The proposals included: the replacement of the church pews with chairs; alteration of the dais in the chancel; the baptistry; new heating, lighting and and audio-visual system; redecoration; the building of an extension for offices; and a garden area. English Heritage, the Victorian Society and the Church Buildings Council all had concerns Chancellor determined that the extension was acceptable, and that the pews were of little merit and could be replaced. As regards the font, the Chancellor was satisfied that the batistry was effectively redundant and that the case for moving the font was made. He therefore granted a faculty. The judgment contains an extensive review of the law and practice relating to fonts.

A judgment dealing with a matter outstanding from Re Holy Trinity Wandsworth [2012], namely, the repositioning of the font and the baptistry screen. Re Duffield discussed. Faculty granted.