The content of Law and Religion UK is issue-driven, and as such, apart from the “set piece” weekly updates and monthly reviews of consistory court judgments, the frequency and topics covered in our posts tends to reflect current events in this area. The “top ten” in the WordPress statistics for 2023 are summarized below; these provide insights into the interests of our readership, (and possibly encouragement for future guest contributors).
Reports on parochial fees in the Church of England are not a “cutting edge” issue in legal scholarship, but year-on-year, they are among our most-read posts. They also provide a reference point for the charges levied by other faith groups. During the past year, the post listing the fees for January and February 2023 topped the list, closely followed by that for Church of England Parochial Fees 2022; interestingly, the “All time” number of “page-reads” for the latter post has now reached 14,207.
The readership of these posts is greater than other “law and religion” topics, and is possibly a reflection of the wider interest in the costs of marriage (and to a lesser extent burial) by individuals and professionals. A further factor is their identification by Google and other search engines, although the popularity of a search term does not necessarily yield the most recent data on the topic.
Following the format of recent summaries, the current post on Church of England Parochial Fees 2024 includes links to the Notes within the A3 and A4 tables, and to other relevant documentation.
Items of regular interest
Posts within this category include: Church bells and the law (February 2018); Churchyard Regulations – the practicalities of enforcement, (June 2016); Churches, Minsters and Cathedrals, (November 2017); and May a parish or town council grant-aid a place of worship? – yet further thoughts, (June 2020).
Of these, the definitions of Churches, Minsters and Cathedrals are unchanged, and there have been relatively few developments in relation to church bells; these have featured in only 13 consistory court judgments since February 2018. However, Churchyard Regulations are frequently addressed by the courts, and the legislation clarifying the right of town and parish councils to support churches in included in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023.
In addition to readers’ suggestions for future post and advice on our published content, during 2023 there were three guest posts in the “top ten” page reads for 2023. In February 2023, Russell Dewhurst, Doctoral Student and Fellow of the Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University provided timely comment on Canon B5 and the Prayers of Love and Faith; this was considered further in a guest post in July 2023 by HH Peter Collier KC Marriage and/or Holy Matrimony in which he looked critically at the controversy between the treatment of the institution of Holy Matrimony and the institution of civil marriage as distinct realities.
Andrew Atherstone, a member of the General Synod’s House of Clergy, reviewed the public transparency of the deliberations of the House of Bishops The House of Bishops of the Church of England and public transparency, (November 2023). His article demonstrates that public access is written into the House of Bishops Standing Orders, and publication of its minutes was guaranteed to General Synod by a former Archbishop of Canterbury. It concludes that a thorough review of House of Bishops procedures is long overdue.
In addition, we were alerted by David Lamming to amendments to the CDM Code of Practice which provided for the publication of Penalties by Consent in addition to the listing of Tribunal Decisions already in the Church of England website, CDM – penalties by consent, (December 2022).
 Not included are data on general access to “Home page/Archive” and “Recent posts” which comprise a significant part of the readership.