Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Bells

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In 2010, the Chancellor, applying the Bishopsgate test, had granted a Faculty to authorise the refurbishment and augmentation of the four church bells and the replacement of the bell frame (one of the oldest in the diocese). Since 2010 the work had not been carried out due to lack of funds. By 2014 funds had been secured and the Petition was renewed. The Chancellor felt obliged to reconsider his decision in 2010 in the light of the tests laid down in the Court of Arches decision in Re St. Alkmund Duffield [2012]. The Chancellor determined that the tests in Re St. Alkmund were satisfied. Faculty granted. (The 2010 judgment is appended to the 2014 judgment.)

Interim Judgment in connection with a petition requesting permission to dispose of a redundant tenor bell.

The bell in question was cast by Humphrey Wilkinson, a Lincolnshire founder, in 1700.

Faculty granted to authorise new bell frame and twelve bells, re-use of three old bells as chiming bells, and disposal of remaining nine old bells. Numerous objectors.

Refusal by the Deputy Chancellor to permit the tuning of eighteenth-century bells from the Rudhall foundry in Gloucester, on the basis that no sufficient case had been made. Chancellor: "Because it is irreversible, tuning of a complete old ring is a serious matter, not merely to be accepted ‘on the nod’ where a complete old ring is concerned. Where a good case is made there may need to be a balance struck between the asserted needs of the present and the desirability of preserving the past. But where no case is made at all, there can be no reason to destroy the heritage."

The Chancellor, for two reasons, dismissed an application by a private individual for an injunction to stop the Dean & Chapter of York Minster preventing the ringing of the Minster bells. Firstly, the Chancellor had no jurisdiction over the cathedral church of the diocese; and secondly, "the injunctive powers given to Chancellors is in relation to unlawful activity in relation to the church or the churchyard, but only such activity the nature of which would require a faculty to be granted for it to be done lawfully. The use or non-use of the church, the conduct of services in the church and the ringing or non-ringing of bells would not fall within the jurisdiction of the consistory court in a parish church."