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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 20 January 2022

Index by Dioceses of 2021 judgments on this web site.

Churchyards

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Five yew trees, a conifer and a holly had been felled without the authority of a faculty. There had been an application for a faculty using the Online Faculty System. The petitioner (a churchwarden) had taken the approval of the Diocesan Advisory Committee to mean that a faculty would be granted. By the time the Chancellor visited the churchyard to inspect the trees, the trees had been removed. The Chancellor granted a confirmatory faculty, subject to a condition that
new native trees should be planted in the churchyard.

The petitioners wished to place in the churchyard a bench made of steel with slats made from recycled plastic. The Diocesan Advisory Committee ('DAC') did not recommend the proposal. They considered the design not suitable for a historic village churchyard, but more appropriate for a school or city centre, and that a timber bench would be more appropriate. The Chancellor granted a faculty. He did not think it appropriate or necessary to overrule the choice of the Parochial Church Council ('PCC') on grounds of aesthetics. However, he imposed a condition that the PCC should reconsider the design and materials of the bench. If they decided on an alternative, then the alternative would be allowed, subject to prior approval by the DAC. Otherwise, the design accompanying the petition was approved.

The Parochial Church Council petitioned for permission to remove all toys, ornaments and other memorabilia and edgings from 67 graves within the churchyard, many of which items had been in the churchyard for a considerable time. The Chancellor considered all written objections, including a claim that to remove such items would be in breach of the law relating to human rights, but decided that the PCC was entirely within its rights in wishing to enforce the Churchyard Regulations, and accordingly a faculty was granted.

The church had been declared redundant in 2001 and in 2004 a lease for 99 years had been granted to a charity. The charity applied for a faculty to lay a foul drain through the  churchyard to take the waste from a disabled toilet which was to be installed in the church, to serve the needs of people attending the church for community events. A party opponent objected on the grounds that there was little need for community events in the church, that  the funds needed for the project could be better spent elsewhere, and that the village sewerage system was already stretched to the limit. The petitioners argued that, as the church had been used only twelve times in the previous year, the toilet usage would not overload the sewerage system. The Chancellor noted that the local authority had approved the proposal, and was therefore presumed not to be concerned about the laying of an additional drain in the village. Also, it was believed that there were no burials in the churchyard which would be affected by the laying of the drain. The Chancellor therefore granted a faculty.

A faculty was sought to allow an extension to the existing churchyard path, in order to facilitate access to an existing wooden bench in wet weather when the ground becomes very wet. There was one objection. The Deputy Chancellor granted a faculty.

The associate minister and a churchwarden wished to remove from the churchyard two cedar trees, which were situated within 2 metres of the northern wall of a plant room, adjacent to the vestry.   In recent years the trees have been causing problems, dropping a large amount of debris on the roof on the north side of the church, choking gutters and downpipes, and causing rainwater to cascade down the wall. The quinquennial inspection report had advised removal of the trees due to the rainwater issues and also damage caused by tree roots. A couple whlo lived in the parish submitted a letter of objection. The local authority had agreed to the two trees being removed (the churchyard being in a conservation area), subject to two replacement trees being planted in the churchyard. The Chancellor found that there was a convincing case for the removal of the trees and granted a faculty.

The petitioners wished to erect an octagonal extension with a link to the existing north door of the church to provide facilities for a clergy vestry, a meeting room with mezzanine, 2 WCs (including one for disabled), a kitchenette, choir robe store and general storage. This would involve building over graves and the moving of four upright stones and four kerb sets. Objections were received from six people whose family graves would be affected by the proposals. Faculty granted. Chancellor: "... in my judgment the petitioners have demonstrated a clear need for the proposed extension and I am satisfied from all the information available that the nature, design and location of the building are all entirely appropriate and fulfil the intended purpose. It is a matter of regret that established grave sites and markers will be affected by the erection of the new building, but I have reached the conclusion that the proposed extension is necessary if the mission and functioning of the church is to be maintained and developed and that the benefits for the church and for all who use it outweigh the adverse impact on the grave sites."

The Archdeacon of Dorking applied for a restoration order in respect of a vault, covered by a marble slab, constructed in the churchyard by the previous incumbent as a place of interment for himself and his mother. The grounds for the application were that the place in question was subject to a closing order rendering future burials unlawful, that the construction of the vault was in contravention of the Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884 and that the placing of the memorial was performed without the sanction of a faculty. The Archdeacon therefore sought an order for the removal of the vault. The respondent claimed that he had acquired rights of burial from the successors of the person to whom rights were originally granted by faculty in 1915, and that those rigths were unaffected by the closing order. The Chancellor determined that the respondent did not lawfully have the rights originally granted and that the marble slab shold be removed and the vault filled in with earth, rather than have the vault dismantled.

Faculty granted by the Chancellor, authorising the removal of kerb stones from the churchyard, being satisfied that the proposal had been sufficiently publicised and no memorial owner had expressed objection to the works being carried out.

The Vicar and Churchwardens sought permission (1) to install four timber bollards along the boundary of a cobbled approach to the churchyard and (2) to install an iron gate and fence within the church boundary to prevent entry of livestock. The bollards would prevent parking on a cobbled area between the road and a cottage, through which passed a passage to the churchyard. The owner of the cottage objected. The Chancellor granted a faculty. As regards the bollards, the Chancellor gave the petitioners a period of 20 years in which to install the bollards, if parking on the cobbled access continued to be a problem.