Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Reordering

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The petition sought approval for the replacement of moveable audio-visual equipment with permanently fixed equipment in a Grade I listed late 14th century church, which would involve the removal of three pews to make room for a mixing desk. There were two parties opponent and three other objectors and the matter was determined on written representations. Faculty granted subject to conditions that (1) all equipment was to be indelibly marked, (2) certain equipment should be fitted with tracker devices and (3) the mixing desk should have front and sides made from the pews that would be removed.

A faculty was sought for reordering, which included works to the south porch and the west end of the nave of the Grade I listed church, including the re-positioning of three rows of pews and adjustment of floor levels. The Chancellor granted a faculty.

The proposals included: "to install an electronically operated retractable projector screen, to be installed behind the chancel arch; to install a projector which will be discreetly mounted in front of the screen on one of the roof beams; to install four monitors to be positioned so as to be clearly seen – two from the altar ...". English Heritage and the Victorian Society objected. The Chancellor considered the principles laid down in Re St. Alkmund Duffield, and determined to grant a Faculty: "I am persuaded both by their very limited visibility [the screens] and the reversibility of the project and the liturgical needs of the church that those needs significantly outweigh the modest harm which may be caused."

The Vicar and Churchwardens of the unlisted church sought a faculty to remove the chancel and sanctuary furniture (with the exception of the Holy Table); the removal of a row of pews at the east end of the nave; the creation of a new raised floor (to be carpeted); the installation of underfloor heating; the installation of additional lighting in the chancel; and the replacement of the electronic organ console with a new one in a different position. The Twentieth Century Society objected to the removal of the choir stalls and the Communion rail. The Chancellor granted a faculty, subject to the Communion rail being retained, but moved to a position further east.

Faculty granted for the rebuilding to a new design of a church almost completely destroyed by fire. Objections were lodged by the Victorian Society, and the decision was made on written representations, without a hearing.

The petitioners wished to remove a stone font introduced in the early part of the 20th century to the Grade II* listed church, which dates from around 1300. The proposal was to replace the stone font with a new font of modern design. The new font was to be movable, so as to permit the freeing up of space at the west end of the church, when required for activities other than baptism. Despite reservations as to the design, and the fact that the new font had been made and used before the matter got to a hearing, the Chancellor granted the faculty.

Extensive reordering works were proposed for the Grade I church. There were several written objections, but none of the objectors wished to be a party opponent. There were no objections from the amenity societies consulted. The Chancellor, being satisfied that the petitioners had made out a good case for the works (" ... the proposed changes will result in greater liturgical freedom, pastoral well-being, involvement of the congregation, opportunities for mission and use of the church generally"), granted a faculty.

The Chancellor granted a faculty to authorise a major scheme of reordering, which included the removal of pews and their replacement with hardwood chairs and benches; moving the font and the organ; replacing the altar against the east wall and installing a free-standing altar at the west end of the chancel; and removing the rood screen. Notwithstanding the objections of ChurchCare, Historic England, and the Victorian and Twentieth Century Societies, the Chancellor was "satisfied that the reordering is part of an overall holistic scheme for a thriving church community, which will be a major public benefit outweighing any harm." The Victorian Society subsequently sought leave to appeal, which the Chancellor declined to grant. The Victorian Society then sought leave to appeal from the Dean of Arches, who granted leave to appeal on limited grounds.

A re-ordering project included the removal of all of the nave pews and their replacement with chairs; the installation of a new kitchenette and chair store at the west end of the building; the relocation of the font; and replacement of the dangerous wooden pew platforms with a simple engineered timber floor. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty: "... the circumstances and needs of the parish relied upon at present do not justify the changes sought because those needs can be met with a less harmful scheme."