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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



St. Michael le Belfrey York is a Grade I 16th century church standing next to York Minster. It is a Resource Church for York Diocese and the Northern Province. It has a weekly congregation of 500+ and has plans for further growth. The Faculty petition contained plans for a major reordering, estimated to cost £10m (of which £8m was already obtained or pledged). The work would involve major changes to the historic fabric, including (inter alia) removal of the gallery and stairs and replacement with a new gallery with lift access; replacement of pews with chairs; and the installation of a full immersion baptism pool. The Chancellor found there to be exceptional levels of public benefit to be derived from the works and compelling reasons to permit the works, notwithstanding the loss of historic fabric and fittings, in order to enable this vibrant and thriving church to meet its missional objectives.

The Parochial Church Council sought a faculty for the installation of a frameless glass door into the porch opening. The Diocesan Advisory Committee did not support the proposal: the door would look too modern; a wooden or metal frame would be preferable. Historic England, the Victorian Society and the Ancient Monuments Society also objected. The Chancellor concluded that a frameless glass door would have an adverse aesthetic effect on the Grade I listed church. He according declined to approve a frameless glass door, but approved a wood-framed or metal-framed glass door of a design acceptable to the Diocesan Advisory Committee.

There was a proposal to install a ringing floor and stairs in the church tower. The reason for the application was that the choir and ringers had to share the same space in the tower before services for robing and ringing. The Chancellor was satisfied that the project would result in distinct advantages and accordingly granted a faculty.

The petition proposed various items as the second phase of a reordering project. The main items were: the creation of a servery built on to the north wall at the west end of the church; removal of seven rows of pews at the west end of the church; and removal of two rows of pews at the front of the nave to allow an extension to the existing dais. The Victorian Society and Historic England had reservations about the works, but the Chancellor was satisfied that the petitioners had made an adequate case for the proposed works: " ... I find that the petitioners have proved to me to the necessary degree that the moderate harm that will be caused to the significance of this church as a building of special architectural or historic interest is justified by the need demonstrated."

In July 2013 the Chancellor granted of a faculty authorising works in respect of the stonework, stained glass, and wall paintings at the church. The Church Buildings Council had advised against the proposed work to the stained glass without a detailed conservation report. The faculty granted in July 2013 was subject to a condition that no work should be carried out to the stained glass unless and until a report was first prepared and approved by the Chancellor. A report had now been produced, in which the options given were to replace the broken pieces of glass with similar modern glass, or to insert strapping to support the original damaged glass. The Chancellor decided that the former option was appropriate. The window concerned was one of four matching windows, and new pieces of glass would retain an appearance similar to the other windows, whereas strapping would detract from the appearance of the window, especially as it was part of a set.

The Petitioners sought a faculty for repairs to the stone work,together with repairs to the stained glass and works of conservation in relation to the wall paintings. The Diocesan Advisory Committee recommended the proposals and the Victorian Society had no objection. The Church Buildings Council advised against the proposed work to the stained glass without a detailed conservation report. The Chancellor granted a faculty subject to a condition that no work should be carried out to the stained glass (in a window damaged by missiles from outside) unless and until a report was first prepared and approved by the Chancellor.

The Chancellor granted a faculty for a major reordering of the church, with the exception of a proposal to cover the whole of the floor with carpet, because he considered that, if the church was carpeted, "the change in the present character and nature of the church would be too great ".
(Note: This judgment also deals with a separate petition which included a proposal for carpeting, and is therefore separately listed as Re St. John the Divine Southbourne [1985] Quentin Edwards Ch. (Chichester).)

In 2017, the then Archdeacon of Bath had granted a licence for temporary reordering which allowed the removal of the church pews into storage, the removal of five radiators and the laying of a temporary carpet. The pews were placed in a storage facility with pews removed from Bath Abbey. The licence was limited to a period of 18 months. For various reasons, including a vacancy in the benefice and the Covid pandemic, nothing had been done about the return of the pews. In the interim, Bath Abbey arranged for the disposal of its pews from the storage facility, and by mistake the pews from St. Michael’s church were included in the disposal. The petitioners now requested a confirmatory faculty for the permanent removal of the pews. The Chancellor granted a faculty for the permanent removal of the pews, but not for their disposal, which remained unlawful. A condition was attached to the faulty that the petitioners should use their best endeavours to try to recover a sample number of the missing pews.

The petitioners wished to remove three light, moveable, twentieth century pews from the Grade II* church, together with 20 chapel chairs, and replace them with up to 25 new chairs of a light-coloured wood with burgundy red upholstery on the seats and backs. Historic England cautioned against the use of upholstered replacement chairs due to their likely impact on the church’s interior, which is predominantly furnished in timber. The Victorian Society and the Georgian Society also objected to upholstered chairs. The Chancellor granted a faculty for the removal of the three pews and the chapel chairs and the introduction of up to 25 new wooden chairs, provided (inter alia) that: the the new wooden chairs should be stained to match the surrounding woodwork; only the seats should be upholstered; and the colour of the upholstery should be a neutral colour to blend in with the colour of the wood.

The chancel of the church is only used for daily prayer and for fortnightly coffee mornings. The works proposed were the introduction of radiators and additional carpeting, to make the chancel more comfortable on the occasions when it is used. It was also proposed to create a new bell-ringing floor in the tower, in order to create a disabled toilet and kitchen at the base of the tower. There were letters of objection from two bell-ringers in respect of this item. The Chancellor decided that any impact on the bell-ringers should not outweigh the benefits of providing appropriate toilet and refreshment facilities. He accordingly granted a faculty.