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Alphabetical Index of all judgments on this web site as at 4 June 2020

Index by Dioceses of all judgments on this web site, as at 4 June 2020

Churchyards

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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 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.

The Chancellor granted a faculty for the replacement of the current church hall situated within the churchyard (a 1960s building, intended to be temporary and now in need of replacement) with a new single-storey hall, of which one elevation would be faced with brick to match the Victorian church building and the other elevations would be clad in timber.


The petitioners wished the Chancellor to authorise the setting aside of an area for cremated remains in the churchyard extension and to authorise a variation of the standard churchyards regulations in order to allow the incumbent to permit in future the erection of upright memorials and 'desktop memorials' in the churchyard extension to mark interments of cremated remains. They also asked the Chancellor to grant a confirmatory faculty in respect of upright memorials and 'desktop memorials' already installed to mark interments of cremated remains in the churchyard and churchyard extension during the past 18 years. The Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioners had made out a satisfactory case for the proposals and granted a faculty accordingly

The Deputy Chancellor granted a faculty to authorise the removal from the churchyard of a tree which was in danger of causing damage to an adjoining property.

Faculty granted for the removal wooden and plastic kerbs from a number of graves.

The works proposed included improvements to the churchyard paths, including step-free access to the church, and in the course of such works the carrying out of archeological works with the objective of re-excavating a structure in the churchyard found by a nineteenth century incumbent but re-buried in 1929. This structure is believed to be the remains of a Saxon church. Letters of objection from two neighbours expressed concern about the impact of the works on the adjacent lane. The Chancellor was satisfied that the improvement of the paths would enhance the churchyard, and also examining, recording and securing for the future archaeological remains of national and possible international significance justified the granting of a faculty.

The vicar and churchwardens applied for a faculty to re-use the churchyard for burials. Though the churchyard was not closed by Order in Council, burials could now only take place in existing graves. There was one objector. A hearing was held, at which the Chancellor dismissed the objector's twelve grounds of objection as having no substance, in view of which, and also of the fact that the objector had refused to have the matter dealt with by written representations, the Chancellor directed that the objector should pay the costs of the half-day hearing.