Facts not “visions” required for faculty

Re All Saints Lydiard Millicent [2023] ECC Bri 4

An extensive programme of reordering was proposed for the Grade II* listed church, [1] to [3], the sticking points of which were the removal of the pews, the replacement of the flooring and the introduction of underfloor heating [4]. In response to a paragraph the Statement of Need  [7], not drafted by the petitioner but expressing the collective view of the PCC, Gau Ch. explained the test for granting a faculty:

“[8]. ….The test is set out in the  case of: St Alkmund, Duffield together with the Church’s statutory duties under S35 Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018.”

The Chancellor approved the replacement of the flooring and introduction of underfloor heating, but was not satisfied that the petitioners had made an adequate case for the complete removal of the pews.

“[24]. The petitioners are not prepared to consider any further retention of pews. The proposed seating arrangements envisage between 94 and 122 seats being available, often for reasons not entirely clear, facing North-indeed this is one of the reasons given in the document I cited at paragraph 6 above as a reason to grant the petition.

[25]. The activity survey…identifies that, currently, the church has between 8 and 40 people for Sunday and weekday services. Seasonal services have between 60 children, 30 parents and 15 staff quarterly. Once a year there are 160 people attending the Christmas school service. ‘Special services’ e.g. a ‘Staycation’, memorial services and concerts have up to a 100 people attending. Pews apparently are not acceptable for these events as they restrict the view are uncomfortable and get in the way of circulation.”


“[26]. The petitioners have made many assertions about how their mission would be assisted by the removal of the vast majority of the pews. They have expressed their desire to make their Grade II* Church more accessible and flexible. The only evidence they have provided me with, however, is that a few events in the year are mildly inconvenienced. Efforts to compromise suggested by the amenity bodies in relation to the pews have been rebuffed.

[27]. Two documents have been submitted to me for my consideration; one is an anonymous hand written report by someone who stopped attending church 9 years ago. It is a report of a ‘vision’ that they had. It describes the interior of the church having bean bags, comfortable seats and a coffee area and kitchen ‘which reminded me of Starbucks’.

The other document is headed ‘Statement of needs’ and includes another vision of the re-ordered church, drafted by the Petitioner. Both make interesting reading but are wholly unsupported by any evidence. I am rather at a loss what make of them, but I applaud the sense of warmth and desire for mission that they extol. I can, however, give them no weight when it comes to making any assessment of the proposed petition.

[29]. …The amenity bodies have made it clear, that in a Grade II* listed building with foundations in the 14th Century sensitive and evidence-based alterations to the interior must be demonstrated. I agree. I have been scrupulous in trying to persuade the petitioners to compromise on their insistence that all save a very few pews should be removed from this beautiful church. They have refused to. I am quite satisfied that they have done so on the basis of a vision for the future of this church that they have which appears to be rooted entirely on an optimistic interpretation of the local community needs which they have entirely failed to substantiate with evidence. I cannot therefore accede to this part of the petition.”

He granted part of the petition on condition that: no building work would commence until all funds were in place for the faculty now granted; and no building work would commence until the organ had been re-housed [31].

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Facts not “visions” required for faculty" in Law & Religion UK, 28 November 2023, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2023/11/28/facts-not-visions-required-for-faculty/


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