Recent consistory court judgments – March 2016

This month’s round-up of consistory court judgments


In our post No weddings, one funeral … and a book of stamps we considered the broader issues raised by Re St Peter Whitstable in relation to use of the church as a temporary “hosted” Post Office®, and the issue of a Licence under Faculty rather than a Lease under S 68 Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011. Petitions for the reservation of grave space in a churchyard that is almost full are becoming more common and our post reviewed Re St Oswald Methley in which the legal position is clearly stated. Although not the subject of a stand-alone post, Re St Andrew Castle Coombe is notable in the fact that for this “beautiful (Grade I) church in a beautiful village” [2], the Chancellor determined that the answer to the first Duffield question was “No”, and was further satisfied that the ordinary presumption of “in favour as they stand” could be rebutted in this case.

In March we also looked at the application of Re Blagdon Cemetery in our two posts on the permanence of Christian burial revisited; Part I examined: the application of Articles 8 & 9 ECHR; the development of churchyards to permit the reuse of graves; and family graves. Part II looked at: the storage and scattering of cremation ashes; cases in which there is an objection to exhumation; and where a petitioner has sought exhumation and re-interment at a more convenient location on account of medical reasons.

Other judgments this month concerned reordering, exhumation, and churchyards. The CFCE met on 17 March and its determinations on the applications considered will be reported when they become available.


Re St Peter Whitstable [2016] ECC Can 1 The Commissary General directed that a Licence be prepared and submitted to the Court for approval before the issue of a Faculty relating to the temporary installation of a Post Office® facility. The proposal sought the siting of a temporary Post Office “pod” at the rear of the church, pending the provision of a new permanent facility site in the town. [Top] [Link to post] [Link to judgment]

Re St. James the Apostle Islington [2016] ECC Lon 2 This was supplemental to Re St. James the Apostle Islington [2015] Islington Const Ct. in which a Faculty was granted against local opposition in relation to works to the chancel inter alia, although the conditions imposed by chancellor reflected the spirit, if not the detail, of the objections raised. The instant Judgment is to be read in conjunction with the earlier proceeding, and deals briefly with unresolved matters since then including further chancel reordering [2]. Although recommended by the DAC which issued a Notification of Advice, there were two objections relating to the proposed lighting scheme. It was alleged that there was a lack of consultation with the PCC, the congregation was content with the status quo, and the main beneficiary would be the Islington Proms, in which the incumbent had an interest.

Chancellor Seed concluded that whilst these matters apparently disclosed serious irregularities that warranted further investigation, they were principally procedural and went to the probity of the process rather than the merits of the proposals, including the lighting. A Faculty was therefore granted, subject to conditions. [Top] [Link to judgment] [Link to 2015 judgment]

Re St Andrew Castle Coombe [2016] ECC Bri 2 A faculty was granted for the following works at this Grade I listed church: the creation of an extension to the north side of the church to provide for an accessible lavatory, a kitchen area and a vestry/office; the re-creation of the Knight’s chapel (currently in use as a vestry); and the creation of an historic display area within the south aisle. The village of Castle Coombe has become increasingly popular for tourists and film makers, and the church is the only open meeting; however it is underused due to the lack of basic facilities and the inflexibility of the building. The proposed reintroduction of the Knight’s Chapel will provide an area for quiet prayer and part of the church would be used for display purposes, following the closure of the village museum in 2011. It was anticipated that the improved facilities would encourage more people to attend church services and make the building a more flexible space for liturgy.

The DAC, Wiltshire Council planning department, English Heritage and SPAB agreed with the plans revised following discussions with the amenity bodies. The Public Notice attracted several letters of support but no objections Unusually for a Grade I listed church in an acclaimed tourist “hot spot”, (“a beautiful church in a beautiful village” [2]) the Chancellor determined that the answer to the first Duffield question was “No”, and was further satisfied that the ordinary presumption of “in favour as they stand” could be rebutted in this case. Nevertheless, he noted:

“The test in this case is not quite as clear cut as in other cases. The extension to the church will alter the footprint of the church and will necessitate cutting an opening into the North wall of the building. This has to be weighed against the fact that the new design of the extension is unobjectionable to the amenities bodies consulted, the opening will be through a nineteenth century wall which in tum appears to have blocked an original thirteenth century aperture and will result in the reinstating of a Chapel.”

and concluded:

“The Church will be able to welcome people in a civilised way to secular and religious functions, the village museum will be given a home and a 15th Century Chapel can be restored for the spiritual well-being of parishioners and visitors alike.”  [Top] [Link to judgment]

Re St. John the Baptist Wimbledon [2016] ECC Swk 5 The Chancellor granted a faculty for the replacement of the current church hall situated within the churchyard (a 1960s building, intended to be temporary and now in need of replacement) with a new single storey hall, of which one elevation would be faced with brick to match the Victorian church building and the other elevations would be clad in timber. [Link to post] [Top]


Re St Peter Gunton [2016] ECC Nor 5 The Chancellor, taking into account the guidance in Re Blagdon Cemetery [2002], determined that there were special reasons for permitting exhumation and re-interment. The cremated remains of the father of the three petitioning children had been buried in a parish churchyard. At the time it was intended that his wife’s cremated remains should be placed with his. When his wife died, the children found that her will said that she wished to be buried in a family grave in a cemetery. They mistakenly felt obliged to comply with the terms of the will, but this defeated the original intention of the mother and the father to be buried together. After the second burial the children regretted not having buried their parents together and made a fairly prompt application to rectify the situation. [Link to judgment] [Top]

In the Matter of the Petition of Mandy Ramshaw [2016] ECC Oxf 1 Faculty granted for exhumation of remains of petitioner’s mother from  churchyard at Mapledurham, Oxfordshire and reinternment in a plot  reserved in the cemetery at Chester-le-Street, County Durham. Conditional on supplying court with evidence of exclusive right of burial at Chester-Le-Street. [Link to judgment] [Top]

In the matter of the Petition of Kathrine Tollis [2016] ECC Oxf 2 Insufficient justification found for exhumation of petitioner’s father from an Oxfordshire churchyard and their reinternment in Antibes. [Link to judgment] [Link to Church Times summary]  [Top]


Re All Saints Bingley [2016] ECC Lee 3 The petition related to improvements to the entrance and pathways to the church. This involved removal of a large number of old memorials which had been laid as paving during the 1900s. These memorials were inclined to be slippery underfoot when wet, giving rise to health and safety concerns. The Chancellor granted a faculty, subject to a condition that within nine months a report should be submitted concerning progress on the work and as to the most appropriate way to deal with the old memorials removed from the pathways. [Link to judgment] [Top]

Re St Oswald Methley [2016] ECC Lee 2 The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty for the reservation of a double grave of the two petitioners; although the churchyard  contained the graves of the parents and siblings of one of them, neither had a legal right to be buried there. Furthermore, it was anticipated that there would be no remain grave spaces in two years or less. [Link to Judgment] [Top]

Re St. Bartholomew Leigh [2016] ECC Swk 4 Faculty granted for felling 18m tall Wellingtonia (Giant Redwood) tree and other tree works in churchyard. Local authority and DAC approval, but one objector, though not party opponent. PCC considered but rejected other short-term options to reduce height. [Link to judgment]

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Recent consistory court judgments – March 2016" in Law & Religion UK, 1 April 2016,

2 thoughts on “Recent consistory court judgments – March 2016

  1. Pingback: Ecclesiastical court judgments 2016 | Law & Religion UK

  2. Pingback: Recent queries and comments – 28th October | Law & Religion UK

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *