Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Reordering

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The petitioners sought permission to remove four pews from the back of the church, in order to provide more room for the serving of refreshments and for accommodating buggies and wheelchairs. The church is Victorian and unlisted. There was one objector, who did not become a party opponent. The Chancellor, being satisfied that the works were both needed and appropriate, granted a faculty.

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.

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.

Faculty granted for replacement of pews with new seating, and carpetting of nave.

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.

Faculty granted for re-ordering scheme, including the replacement of the existing pews with chairs; reconfiguring the existing dais at the east end of the chancel; moving of the font; conversion of the existing baptistery into a servery; renewal of heating, lighting and audio visual systems; redecoration the church interior; building of an extension on the south side of the church to provide offices; and provision of an enclosed garden area on the south side of the church between the church and the church hall.

An archive of judgments is gradually being built up. Diocesan Registrars and Chancellors who have judgments (recent or not) which are not already listed on this web site are invited to send them to the email address on the Home page.

A more comprehensive collection of Consistory Court judgments is held at the Middle Temple Library.