York Consistory Court: Coningsby Ch, September 1999
This grade I listed church was seriously damaged by fire in 1997 and restored in 1998 pursuant to faculty. However, certain works were undertaken which were not covered by such faculty and these were brought to the attention of the registry by a parishioner. Accordingly four petitions, largely for confirmatory faculties, fell to be determined. Most controversial was a plinth or shelf upon which a statue of the Virgin Mary was to stand. Prior to the fire the statue had been unsatisfactorily located on a table. The plinth was the gift of a donor and a piece of a medieval pillar had been removed to enable it to be installed. The chancellor was critical of the churchwardens, PCC and parish architect for proceeding without authority of a faculty thereby denying the DAC the opportunity of commenting on the proposal. He also warned of the problems of accepting gifts unconditionally without proper prior consultation. English Heritage and the Society for the Protecction of Ancient Buildings objected to the interference with the ancient pillar but recognised that the damage would not be reversed by the plinth's removal. Evidence was led that the structural integrity of the pillar had not been impaired. At the hearing, a professional stonemason indicated how the shelf could be reduced in size and the carving of the angel which supported it from below recrafted so as to render it more attractive. This suggestion was acceptable to the petitioners and the DAC. The chancellor granted a confirmatory faculty for this and other works. He ordered all the court and registry costs to be borne by the petitioners. He declined to order the party opponent to contribute to the petitioners' costs save for the attendance of the structural engineer whose evidence was not challenged and whose report ought to have been agreed in advance of the hearing.
(2000) 5 Ecc LJ 486