On 23 March 2022, HH Judge David Hodge handed down his judgment on Re The Rustat Memorial, Jesus College Cambridge,  ECC Ely 2 in which he refused to grant a faculty to the College for the removal of the memorial. This post reproduces the summary of judgment provided by the Ecclesiastical Law Association; the Deputy Chancellor has also written a 6-page summary of his 108-page judgment. [A case note has now been posted on L&RUK, and a guest post by Simon Hunter offers thoughts on inherent contests of heritage, and on Rustat].
As noted in the round-up, of 30 January 2022, the hearing of the petition for a faculty for the relocation of the memorial commemorating Tobias Rustat from the Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge, was to take place in the College Chapel. The substantive hearing was 2-4 February. Our post, Rustat memorial, Jesus College, Cambridge: procedural and evidential issues, reviews the procedural and evidential issues which were considered in the hearing conducted on Zoom on 8 January 2022, Re Jesus College Cambridge  ECC Ely 1. The faculty application provoked a mass of objections, and many of the objectors have become parties opponent to the petition.
Judgment – ELA Summary
HH Judge David Hodge was specially appointed by the Bishop of Huntingdon to act as Deputy Chancellor to determine the petition presented by the College, which sought permission to remove from the College Chapel a Grinling Gibbons memorial to Tobias Rustat, who had been a benefactor of the College in the 17th century. The College contended that Rustat’s investment in companies connected with the slave trade created a serious obstacle to the Chapel’s ability to provide a credible Christian ministry and witness to the College community and a safe space for secular College functions and events.
The Deputy Chancellor refused to grant a faculty. He considered that the removal of the Rustat memorial from the west wall of the Chapel would cause considerable, or notable, harm to the significance of the Chapel as a building of special architectural or historic interest, and he was not satisfied that a clear and sufficiently convincing justification for the removal of the memorial had been made by the College.
Postscript – 24 March 2022, 07:37.
Jesus College has issued a statement which expressed its deep disappointment and shock by the decision, and concluded “It was right for us to have submitted this application. We will now carefully consider our next steps”. The judgment is also reviewed on Varsity, Cambridge University’s student newspaper. Pump Court Chambers referred to the judgment as the first “contested heritage case” and to the useful guidance in the evidence of Professor Goldman on how future petitions might be resolved, an issue to which we will no doubt return.