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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022

Index by Dioceses of 2022 judgments on this web site as at 1 October 2022

Churchyards

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The principal practical point to emerge is that the notice displayed outside a church of a faculty petition, under Rule 6(4)(b)(ii) of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2000, will not be considered to have been displayed properly if displayed on a noticeboard inside a locked porch, even if the public may be able to see into the porch through an iron grille door. There is also a useful obiter dictum on the relationship between the Faculty Jurisdiction and planning and advertising controls.

This was an application for a retrospective faculty for the installation of a series of sculptures in 14 gardens created in the cathedral grounds under the authority of a faculty in 2012, in order to show developments in the Isle of Man’s history from the time of St. German to the 20th century. The sculptures, which were not authorised under the 2012 faculty, were accompanied by QR codes linking information about the significance of each of them. The Vicar General had to consider (inter alia) whether it was appropriate to have a sculpture of an identifiable living individual within the precincts of the cathedral. He decided that the sculpture was not intended to commemorate the person concerned as an individual, but rather to use his head as representative of a typical Manx schoolchild. He therefore granted a faculty for all of the statues.

Petition for setting aside of an area of the churchyard for the interment of cremated remains. Objection that site unsuitable. Faculty granted.

The proposal was to fell a sycamore tree in the churchyard and replace it with smaller suitable trees further away from the church building. The tree was at least 10m taller than the church tower and 5.3m from the church building, resulting in moss on the church roof, black mould on the nearest church buttress and the blocking of gutters and fall pipes during the autumn. A tree specialist also advised that there was a risk of splitting of the four main boughs. The Chancellor as satisfied that there as a good case for removing the tree and granted a faculty.

Extensive works to the inside and the outside of the church were proposed. The only item in contention was the proposed erection of a new thatched pavilion building in the south-west corner of the churchyard. The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings objected that thatch would be an incongruous material to use in an urban environment; it would be a fire risk; and thatching material might be difficult to source now or for replacement in the future. Given that the Planning Authority was satisfied that the single-storey new building would not have any deleterious effect on the churchyard and the church, the Chancellor saw no reason for refusing to grant a faculty.

The proposal was to erect a temporary classroom building within the churchyard (which was closed for burials), pending the completion of an extension to the Church of England school. The Chancellor granted a faculty, subject to conditions which included the removal of the temporary building within two years. The Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884 prohibits the erection of a building on a closed churchyard, unless for the purpose of enlarging a church, chapel, meeting house or other place or worship. In the present case, the temporary building would be linked to the church and would be available for use by the church on Sundays.

The Vicar and Churchwardens wished to fell twelve hornbeam trees lining the path to the south porch of the church. The trees were said to have outgrown their situation, resulting in the area being very dark, the grass beneath them being affected and the pathway becoming slippery. There were several written objections. The diocesan trees advisor and the local authority advised that the trees had grown too large for their setting. The Chancellor determined that the benefits of the proposal would outweigh the loss of amenity and she accordingly granted a faculty.

The Parochial Church Council wished to carry out works extending the church hall, next to the southern boundary of the churchyard, in order to improve the facilities that it affords for uses that are ancillary to the church and for wider community use. The proposed works included removal of two trees; relocation of memorials; removal and rebuilding gate post; resurfacing of the path. Letters of objection were submitted by eight parishioners, of whom one withdrew and two became formal objectors. The Chancellor stated that the test to be applied was not the test laid down in Re St. Alkmund Duffield [2001] (which applied to listed buildings) but the test set out by Lord Penzance in Peek v Trower [1881]: "All presumption is to be made in favour of things as they stand.  If you and others propose to alter them, the burden is cast upon you to shew that you will make things better than they are – that the church will be more convenient, more fit for the accommodation of the parishioners who worship there, more suitable, more appropriate, or more adequate to its purpose than it was before; and if you cannot shew this to the court, at least shew the court that a majority of those for whose worship the church exists desires the alterations which you propose." The Chancellor determined that the test had been satisfied. Faculty granted.

The petitioners sought permission to replace a bench surrounding a tree in the churchyard. They submitted with the petition a report by a firm of arboriculturalists, which indicated that the tree was in a dangerous condition and should be removed. The Chancellor gave directions that he would not grant permission unless the petitioners were able to produce evidence that the tree was not as dangerous as had been suggested in the report. The petitioners submitted a report from a tree expert employed by the borough council, who said that the tree was basically sound, showed "excellent signs of vitality", and a Quantified Tree Risk Assessment had suggested that risk was at a tolerable level. The Chancellor granted a faculty for the new bench, subject to some lower branches of the tree being removed, as recommended by the borough council tree expert.

The petition proposed various landscaping works in the churchyard, relating to the addition of a churchyard extension. There was a single objection to the removal of a line of fir trees. The Deputy Chancellor granted a faculty for all the proposed works.