Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Reordering

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The proposed works as set out in the Petition included: "to reorder the chancel area to provide a raised platform which will be level with the current chancel steps; to provide a movable Nave Altar to be crafted from two redundant two-seater stalls; to provide a three sided dais complete with removable altar rails to allow people to kneel when receiving Holy Communion and to provide a stage area when hosting school concerts and choirs". The Victorian Society objected, but did not become a party opponent. On the basis that the applicants were motivated by a real desire to make the church more accessible both to the community and to the congregation in terms of their participation in the Liturgy, and that the proposals were completely reversible, the Chancellor granted a faculty.

The Rector and Churchwardens applied for a faculty for the installation of a WC in the north-west corner of the church, the replacement of the pipe organ with an electronic organ, the re-siting of some pews, and the rearrangement of some windows. The only contentious item was the removal of the pipe organ to accommodate the WC facilities. The pipe organ had been installed in the 1950s and was of doubtful provenance. The Chancellor granted a faculty.

The Chancellor granted a faculty authorising the erection of an extension to the church to provide toilets and storage space. Access to the new facilities would be via the existing north door to the church and thus there would be no impact on the existing interior of the Grade I listed church.

The Vicar and Churchwardens petitioned for a faculty to permit the creation of a new servery, the removal of a timber narthex screen from the rear of the church and improvements to the toilet facilities. Objections were received from English Heritage and the Church Buildings Council in relation to the removal of the narthex screen. The guidelines contained in the Court of Arches judgment in Re St. Alkmund Duffield [2013] were considered by the Deputy Chancellor. Faculty granted.

A faculty petition relating to a proposed reordering was dismissed on the basis that the petitioners had failed to comply with the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules, in particular with regard to not giving proper notice of the proposals.

The proposals for the Grade I listed church included the removal of the fixed pews in the nave, north aisle and choir, and their replacement with new moveable pew benches; also, the installation of underfloor heating. The Commissary General granted a faculty, but expressed concern that a contract had been signed with the contractor before the petition had been referred to her.

The petitioners sought permission for items of re-ordering, which included alterations to the chancel of the unlisted church, in order to permit more flexible worship as well as concerts. There were two objections, principally on aesthetic and financial grounds. The Chancellor granted a faculty to permit the removal of the three steps within the sanctuary and the removal of the carpet covering, the radiators and altar rails, subject to the petitioners producing within 12 months a final detailed specification for alterations to the chancel which would provide fitting arrangements for future worship and not just a platform for concerts. (See Re St. James the Apostle Islington [2016] ECC Lon 2)

The hearing in this case was supplemental to a faculty application determined by a hearing in January 2015 (see Re St. James the Apostle Islington [2015]), when the Chancellor granted a faculty for works to (inter alia) the chancel of the church. The present application also contained matters relating to the chancel. Two objectors in this case raised objections to the lighting only. The Chancellor ruled that the objections related only to procedural irregularities and not to the merits of the proposals. He therefore granted a faculty for all the additional works.

There was an unopposed petition for re-ordering, including removing an existing extension on the north side of the church and constructing a spacious hallway, welcome area, toilets and store connected to the church through a new doorway into the narthex. Applying the criteria laid down in Re St. Alkmund Duffield [2013] Fam 158, the Chancellor determined that any harm to the Grade II listed building would be slight, and accordingly granted a Faculty.

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