Ecclesiastical Court Judgments – May

Review of the ecclesiastical court judgments during May 2021

The seven consistory court judgments which were circulated in May relate to:

This summary also includes Privy Council Business, CDM Decisions and Safeguarding, and CFCE Determinations, as well as links to other posts relating to ecclesiastical law.


Reordering, extensions and other building works

Other building works, including re-roofing

Re St. Mary Beverley [2021] ECC Yor 2 Following the installation of eight Narnia-themed label stops* on the North Nave Clerestory, for which permission was granted on 16 December 2018, HH Canon Peter Collier QC, Diocesan Chancellor, approved stonework repairs to the South Nave Clerestory at St Mary Beverley, comprising the replacement of one missing carved grotesque and eight label stops. The theme for the carvings was to be pioneering women, the criteria for selection being: local connection, a weighting towards maths, the sciences, and engineering and also to include BAME representation within the group. As with the existing carving for which a Licence was granted by the CS Lewis Society, consents are required for some of the proposed label stops; Helen Sharman, Britain’s first astronaut, is known to have given her consent but a response is awaited in relation to Her Majesty the Queen.

The simple question that was posed for the Chancellor was whether the petitioners had made out the case for their proposal; there was no suggestion that any heritage damage would be done by the taking away of something that was there, and the only heritage body to comment has said that this will “enhance the aesthetic, historic and communal heritage values” of the building. Consequently, “this is not a case that engages the Duffield questions at all [15]”. However, “[t]here is no clear authority about what is and what is not appropriate in the way of decoration of a church either externally or internally”. The Chancellor’s approach is described in paragraphs [16] to [22].

The Chancellor considered that it was appropriate to allow the choices that had been made to represent women who had played a significant role in the advancement of science and human knowledge. He therefore granted a faculty. [Re St. Mary Beverley [2021] ECC Yor 2] [Top of section] [Top of Page]

Re St. Luke Lodge Moor [2021] ECC She 3 St Luke’s Church Lodge Moor is an ecumenical partnership between the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and United Reform Churches in the Lodge Moor area in Hallam in Sheffield. The online petition seeks permission for extensive works of extension, internal structural alterations and reordering; the works are recommended for approval by the DAC subject to a proviso concerning the design for the internal chapel [1]. The Chancellor described the church as “…an unprepossessing modern building…the exterior is somewhat  unwelcoming…the interior, twice altered, is complicated…the present proposals take a more holistic approach to the building to increase its capacity and accessibility” [2]. However,

“[3]. St Luke’s Church is a vibrant and successful church in an affluent area of Sheffield. The church has achieved growth in the numbers of its congregation and membership. There is a need to expand the capacity of the main worship space to welcome larger congregations. The meeting rooms are used to 100% capacity during daytimes and evenings, demonstrating a further need for greater capacity in those parts of the building.”

The Petitioners wished to energise their already successful outreach to the community. After consultation with local councillors and health care professionals they have identified a need to provide a café / drop-in style meeting place [4]. The plans submitted for approval would create a café style space evident from the outside of the building and would alter the appearance of the exterior to create an attractive and welcoming space. The project also includes extensive interior alterations which render the building more accessible, increase meeting room capacity and increase seating capacity in the main worship space [5]. The Chancellor granted a faculty for this “carefully planned project” for which the estimated cost was £1M [6,7].  [Re St. Luke Lodge Moor [2021] ECC She 3] [Top of section] [Top of post]

Re St. Peter and St. Paul Olney [2021] ECC Oxf 2 The Rector and Churchwardens wished to create an educational area in the east end of the south aisle of the church dedicated to the life and work of the Reverend John Newton (1725-1807) and to introduce into the church an informative display. (John Newton was a reformed slave ship captain, who was the curate-in-charge of the church from 1764 to 1780 and the author of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’.) The work would involve the removal of four pews, and the seat from a fifth pew.  Notwithstanding the current sensitivity relating to the display in public places of things relating to the slave trade, the Chancellor granted a faculty, being satisfied that the display would “recognise the vital contributions made to the abolition of the vile trade in human flesh by African and other global majority heritage writers and abolitionists, women and working class reformers, rather than simply focusing upon the work of prominent, white, upper and middle class male abolitionists …” [Re St. Peter & St. Paul Olney [2021] ECC Oxf 2] [Post] [Top of section] [Top of post]

Heating

Re St. Thomas and St. Luke Dudley [2021] ECC Wor 2 The Petitioners sought to install a new heating system, an additional toilet, and to reconfigure part of the building used as the ‘Youth Room’. [The church is a “resourcing church”, with special funding from the Church Commissioners’ Strategic Development Fund for the purpose of growing the congregation to around 250 people and generating energy and resources for further church-planting elsewhere in the diocese.]

The Chancellor expressed her concerns regarding the proposed new gas-fired heating system.  She “respectfully disagreed with the views expressed in the earlier judgments” [which were reviewed in our post, here], which “may be read as suggesting that a chancellor should not consider the environmental implications of a proposal, at least where the petitioners have already done so” [39]. However, an expert report indicated that the proposed new system should reduce overall gas usage by 35%. The Chancellor granted a faculty subject to a condition that gas supplied under a green tariff should be used where possible. [Re St. Thomas & St. Luke Dudley [2021] ECC Wor 2] [Post] [Top of section] [Top of post].

Exhumation

Errors in burial

Re Mitcham Road Cemetery Croydon [2021] ECC Swk 1 The petitioners sought permission  for the temporary exhumation of the cremated remains of their brother from their father’s grave, so that their mother could be buried in the same grave and the brother’s cremated remains then returned to the grave. At the time of their burial, the undertakers had known of the plans for a subsequent interment, but had failed to make accommodation for this eventuality. The Chancellor granted a faculty. [Re Mitcham Road Cemetery Croydon [2021] ECC Swk 2] [Top of section] [Top of Page]


Churchyards and burials

Churchyard Regulations

Re St Mary Barnetby le Wold [2021] ECC Lin 1 A married couple are buried in graves alongside each other; the Petitioners wish to move the memorial at the head of the husband’s grave to mid-way between the two graves, to add a further inscription in gold letters on the polished black granite memorial and to add side panels bearing coloured rose designs. “This falls a long way outside the Churchyard Regulations”, and was originally referred to the Chancellor for a dispensation. However, the scope of the works required a full Faculty application so that the Chancellor was able to receive the advice of the DAC and the Petition could be advertised to the wider public [2].

From photographs of the churchyard,  it was clear that there are many memorials that are outside the Churchyard Regulations using polished black granite with gold lettering but also in the use of a double memorial stone for a husband and wife spreading over two graves that can only have been erected after 2013 given the dates on the stone [5]. The PCC is supportive of the application, and the DAC “does not object”.

As there were many instances of memorials outside the churchyards regulations in the churchyard, including examples of memorials erected between adjacent graves, and in view of the fact that the churchyard would shortly need to be closed for further burials, the Chancellor granted a faculty, but excluded permission for the decorative side panels. [Re St Mary Barnetby le Wold [2021] ECC Lin 1] [Top of section] [Top of Page]


Bells

Re All Saints Hawton [2021] ECC S&N 3 A faculty was granted to augment the ring of eight bells to ten, funded through the use of money still available from that collected through the fund-raising campaign for the restoration. An interesting case concerning a church better known for its Easter Sepulchre and excellent carvings. Prior to the restoration, the bells had not been rung for nearly 70 years, and none of those who wrote letters of objection live within the sound of the bells.

Dealing with the objections, the Chancellor determined that there were no grounds for suggesting that the augmentation would put additional stress on the tower; there had been no failure by the Parochial Church Council to communicate the proposals to parishioners; and financial matters were for the Parochial Church Council to decide. He concluded:

[12]. The project appears to me to be in principle desirable: the proposed work will add to the church’s assets and attractions and will cause no diminution of them. There is nothing in the papers before me that would give any proper ground for refusing the faculty sought, which will accordingly issue. That will mean that the augmentation can take place.

[13]. Whether it should take place is not a decision for this court, but for the parish. A faculty permits: it does not compel…The process of this petition has enabled all those who were concerned about it to express their views. Those who have expressed such views include some members of the congregation who do not live in the parish, and a larger number of people who do live in the parish. The parish itself needs to decide whether to reconsider the matter or to proceed on the basis of the decision already taken by the PCC.”

[Re All Saints Hawton [2021] ECC S&N 3] [Top of section] [Top of Page]


Privy Council Business

26 May 2021.

  • The Secretary of State for Justice, after giving ten days’ notice of his intention to do so, has, under the Burial Act 1853 as amended, made representations to Her Majesty in Council that, subject to the listed exceptions, burials should be discontinued in:-

1. Churchyard at St Michaels Church, Lumb, Rossendale, Lancashire;
2. St Peter and St Paul Churchyard, Church Lane, Tasley, Shropshire.

The Order is yo be published in the London Gazette, and that copies fixed on the doors of the Churches or Chapels of the above mentioned places, or displayed conspicuously inside them, for one month before 7th July 2021, when they will be taken into consideration by a Committee of the Privy Council.


CDM Decisions and Safeguarding

  • Ward v Percy  The President of Tribunals, Dame Sarah Asplin has issued her decision, dated 28 May, concerning the CDM complaint made last November by Graham Ward in respect of the alleged conduct of Martyn Percy on 4 October. Her decision concluded:

“[10]. …it is entirely disproportionate that this matter should be referred to a tribunal. When arriving at this conclusion I also take into account that Christ Church itself has instigated its own inquiry into the incident. It seems to me therefore, that there is another means of redress which is a more proportionate means of addressing alleged incidents. Accordingly, whilst in no way condoning the alleged behaviour, if it is proved to have taken place, I consider that this matter is not suitable to be referred to a tribunal.”


CFCE Determinations

The dates of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England may be found by scrolling down to the bottom of the page Cathedrals Fabric Commission. The determinations agreed at the meeting on Thursday 27 May 2021 have not been published and will be included in the June monthly round-up. The next meeting of the CFCE is on Thursday 22 July 2021.


Links to other posts

Recent summaries of specific issues that have been considered in the consistory courts include:

Reordering, extensions & other building works

[Top]


Notes on the conventions used for the navigation between cases reviewed in this post are summarized here.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Ecclesiastical Court Judgments – May" in Law & Religion UK, 1 June 2021, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2021/06/01/ecclesiastical-court-judgments-may-4/

 

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