Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Reordering

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An application had been made for a restoration order following the removal of four pews and replacement of some pew platform boards. Although an application had been made for an Archdeacon's Licence for temporary re-ordering, the work had been done before the Licence had been issued, and therefore before the conditions attached to the Licence were known. The pews had received some minor damage during the course of their removal. The Commissary General decided to make a restoration order in respect of the pews (but not the platform boards), but suspend it for an initial period of four months to give the PCC an opportunity of consulting the amenity societies and the Diocesan Advisory Committee and applying for a Faculty to authorise a permanent re-ordering.

Major re-ordering. Objection by the Victorian Society in relation to the physical and spatial impact of the scheme as a whole.

The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the removal of a number of short side aisle pews as, in applying the guidelines in Re St. Alkmund Duffield, he found that the petitioners had failed to provide a clear and convincing justification for the removal of the pews. He stated that if the PCC wished to remove the pews they should produce a more comprehensive plan for re-ordering the interior of the church.

The Associate Rector and Churchwardens petitioned for the removal of the nave and aisle pews. The church has no associated church hall and was seeking to adapt its building for use for both community and church-based activities. Objections were received from two private individuals, and concerns were expressed by the Victorian Society, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Local Planning authority, all of whom suggested alternative proposals involving the retention of some pews. The Deputy Chancellor made it clear that it was not for the objectors to put forward alternative proposals, but for the Chancellor to decide whether a convincing case had been made out for the actual proposals in the petition. Faculty granted.

The petition sought approval for major re-ordering, including the replacement of the pews with chairs. Faculty granted. Applying the principles laid down in Re St. Alkmund, Duffield [2013] Fam 158, the Chancellor was satisfied that there was clear and convincing justification for carrying out the proposals.

Faculty granted for permanent removal from the church of communion rails which had been removed under an Archdeacon's licence for temporary re-ordering, subject to the rails being kept in storage.

The Chancellor authorised the removal of a block of pews from the north-west corner on the Grade II* Victorian church, in order to allow the installation of a disabled toilet and a servery.

Faculty sought for the conversion of the existing vestry into a toilet and tea-point, together with the provision of vestry facilities within the base of the tower. Objections to conversion of the vestry received. Faculty granted.

Faculty granted for re-ordering. Principles in Re St. Helen Bishopsgate discussed.

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