Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Reordering

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The 2010 Faculty for reordering was amended to allow for certain consequential works, which included approval for the remodelling of the pulpit steps.

The Petitioner sought permission to move the font to a position in an area immediately to the west side of the main entrance to the church in the north wall and to remove three pews and install a redundant choir stall frontal in order to create a Baptistery area around the repositioned font. (This was a different proposal to the one contained in the 2010 petition for reordering.) The Chancellor decided to grant a faculty, as the proposal would fit in with and complement the changes for which permission had already been given.

In 2011 the petitioners applied for approval (which was granted) for the remodelling of the pulpit steps, having been refused in 2010 a faculty for the removal of the pulpit. They now applied for permission to permanently remove the pulpit from the church. The pulpit had in fact already been removed from the church in 2012 without authority. Reminding the petitioners of the rule of law, and that the removal of the pulpit was unlawful, the Chancellor determined that the arguments for removing the pulpit had not changed since 2010, when he refused to grant a faculty for the removal of the pulpit, and accordingly he now refused again to grant a faculty for its removal.

Faculty granted for continuance of temporary re-ordering.

The Chancellor decided that the proposed new wall-to-wall carpet and the 'bland', black chairs were inappropriate for a Grade II* and important Victorian church in the centre of Brighton, but he granted a limited licence for five years, requiring the petitioners at the end of such period to produce more appropriate long-term proposals.

The petitioners sought a faculty to authorise the movement of the altar westwards by 60cm to increase the amount of space behind the altar for celebrating the Eucharist. Applying the tests laid down in Re St Alkmund’s Duffield [2013], the Deputy Chancellor took the view that the proposals would not cause any harm to the church as a building of special architectural and historic significance, and accordingly granted a faculty.

An extensive reordering was proposed for a Grade II listed Victorian church. The Victorian Society and Heritage England, though not parties opponent, objected to the replacement of most of the pews with chairs, replacement of the dado panelling and replacement of the stone and wood floor with new wooden flooring. The Chancellor determined that the resulting public benefit (including liturgical freedom, pastoral well-being, opportunities for mission, and putting the church to viable uses that were consistent with its role as a place of worship and mission) would outweigh any harm that would be caused by the changes.

The Rector and Churchwardens petitioned for a faculty to authorise the removal of a large Victorian font and its platform from a position near to the main church door of a small medieval church and the placing of a new, much smaller font of Purbeck stone at the east end of the nave. The Chancellor granted a Faculty. As to a proposal to bury the old font, the Chancellor did not consider that appropriate and made the faculty subject to the following conditions: "(a) every reasonable attempt should be made to transfer the font to another church or chapel, (b) failing such transfer, museums should be contacted, (c) failing a museum, sale on the open market should be considered, (d) whatever disposal is contemplated, my prior consent will be required."

This was an appeal by the Victorian Society against the judgment of the Chancellor of Winchester Diocese of 12 March 2015, granting a faculty to replace the existing, Victorian font in the church with a new font made of Purbeck stone. The new font would be smaller than the Victorian font and would be installed on the south eastern, as opposed to south western, side of the nave. The Court decided that the Chancellor had erred and acted unfairly in his purported application of the written representations procedure, and that his judgment on the merits was flawed by several errors of law. Accordingly, the Court ordered that both his judgment and the resulting faculty be set aside.