Display:

The Chancellor had issued a stay of proceedings, pending the outcome of a determination by the Dean of Arches of an appeal against a decision of the Deputy Chancellor. An application was made for the stay to be lifted in respect of one item in the current petition, namely additional lavatory facilities. This item was not contentious, there was potential difficulty in rescheduling the builders, and there was a risk of losing Lottery funding. The Chancellor decided that the stay should be lifted and the matter determined via the Online Faculty System.

The proposals were for a major re-ordering. The local authority objected to one aspect of the scheme, namely the removal and burial of the existing font. Historic England expressed a reservation about the proposals for the new font. Neither objector wished to be a party opponent. The Chancellor came to the conclusion that the better course in this particular case would be to place the old font into storage, and a faculty for the re-ordering scheme was granted on this basis. The judgment contains a review of recent decisions relating to the disposal of fonts.

The Chancellor granted a faculty to permit the installation of external floodlighting. The judgment contains a discussion of the effect of floodlighting on the carbon footprint of the church.

The petitioner, a parishioner, whose parents and grandparents were buried in the churchyard, wished to reserve a grave space for herself and her partner. The Parochial Church Council, a few days before the date of the petition, had, without giving notice to parishioners, decided to adopt a policy of no grave reservations, even though there was said to be enough room in the churchyard for burials for the next 50 years. The Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioner had made a good case for the reservation of a grave and granted a faculty.

The Petitioner wished to have the cremated remains of her parents-in-law exhumed from the churchyard of the now redundant church at Brownsover and reinterred in the churchyard where her late husband's remains were interred. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty, as he could find no exceptional reason to justify him in doing so. In particular, he said that the fact that the churchyard at Brownsover was currently largely overgrown, was not a sufficient reason to justify the grant of a faculty.

The husband and wife petitioners sought permission to include on a memorial to the wife's father the words 'Dad' and 'Pap' . The Chancellor issued a judgment in which he refused permission, as he considered that informal terms of address were not generally suitable for use as a public record on a memorial. And whilst there were a few examples of similar words being used in other parts of the churchyard (none near the grave in question), the Chancellor took the view that so few breaches of the churchyards regulations did not justify allowing further breaches. However, following further representations from the petitioners, that there were already 34 examples in the churchyard of the use of informal descriptions, the Chancellor issued a revised judgment in which he gave permission for the use of the informal descriptions in this case.

The petitioner applied for a a confirmatory faculty permitting the continued presence in the churchyard of a memorial made of white marble 55 centimetres high in the shape of a cross, with some heart motifs and a brass plaque on it. The memorial did not comply with the churchyard regulations.  Neither the Diocesan Advisory Committee nor the Parochial Church Council approved of the memorial. The Chancellor dismissed the petition and directed that the stone should be removed by the petitioner within 2 months, in default of which the stone should be removed by the incumbent and churchwardens. However, the Chancellor gave the petitioner 14 days in which to apply in writing with reasons why the order should not be enforced and that the dismissal of the petition should remain on hold in the meantime.

Under the authority of a faculty granted in March 2021, the sale of a piece of surplus land adjoining the church was to be sold, together with a piece of land owned by the diocese, to a housing developer who proposed building nine houses. In September 2021, a further faculty application was made for permission to create a temporary compound for the developer on part of the churchyard where there were no marked graves. A parishioner objected to the proposal and became a party opponent. His main objection was that this would be an inappropriate  and disrespectful use of part of the consecrated curtilage of the church set aside for burials. Whilst expressing some sympathy for the objector's point of view, the Chancellor considered that, subject to there being a sufficient need for the compound, and adequate safeguards being put in place to protect existing graves, it was appropriate to grant permission for a limited period of 18 months, subject to conditions requiring no part of the compound to be within 5 metres of any marked graves, and subject also to surface reinstatement works being carried out by the developer at the end of the development.

The petitioner's late father had been buried in the churchyard in 2000. Her mother died in 2017, and the petitioner wished to carry out her mother's wishes to have kerbs placed around her father's grave and her mother's ashes scattered on the gravel. The Chancellor refused to grant a faculty to authorise kerbs and gravel to be placed on the grave. Although there were some other graves with kerbs in the churchyard, the grave in question was next to the footpath and the first in a long line of graves with no kerbs, and kerbs would make maintenance of the churchyard more difficult. The Chancellor also refused to allow the scattering of ashes, as being contrary to the churchyards regulations and Canon B 38 (4)(a).  Also, the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1992 refers to the “burial” of cremated remains.

The petition proposed several items of reordering. The only contentious item was the removal of the Victorian font, which had not been used for many years. A Georgian font in the church is normally used for baptisms, owing to lack of sufficient space for families around the Victorian font. Following the removal of the font it was proposed to use the space as an area for children. The Victorian font would be placed either outside the church, or alternatively an offer could be accepted for it to be stored in Maxstoke Castle. Historic England and the Victorian Society did not favour placing the font in the churchyard, but they did not become parties opponent. The Chancellor granted a faculty, but required evidence to be obtained as to whether the placing of the font in the churchyard would result in severe damage due to weathering, in which case the Chancellor would direct that the font be stored in Maxstoke Castle.