All consecrated buildings and burial grounds are subject to the jurisdiction of the Diocesan Bishop. The Bishop does not exercise this jurisdiction personally, but through the Chancellor of the Diocese, who is one of the two legal officers of the diocese, the other being the Diocesan Registrar. Apart from certain ‘minor matters’, no alterations may be made to a consecrated building or burial ground without the authority of a permission called a Faculty. Thus, for example, where a Parochial Church Council wishes to make a change to a church building, such as the introduction of a new stained glass window, or the removal of old pews, an application must be made for a Faculty to authorise the work. Any memorial or other structure on land within the curtilage of a consecrated church is also subject to the Faculty Jurisdiction (whether the land is consecrated or not).
These ‘minor matters’ (works which can be carried out without a Faculty) are divided into ‘List A’ and ‘List B’. ‘List A’ matters are works which the PCC can carry out on their church without a Faculty. ‘List B’ matters are works which first require the written permission of the Archdeacon. Certain conditions apply to these works. Please read the ChurchCare web-page on the national ‘Minor Matters’ Lists A & B, or contact your Archdeacon or the DAC office for further information. These Lists are contained in The Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 (as amended).
Most of the Anglican church buildings in England are listed buildings, that is to say, the local authorities concerned have listed them as being of architectural or historic interest. The consequence of the listing is that where a secular building is listed, it is necessary to obtain Listed Building Consent from the local planning authority before any alterations can be made.
However, Anglican churches in use are exempt from the requirement for Listed Building Consent, because of the control which the Church of England exercises through the Faculty Jurisdiction. This is known as the “ecclesiastical exemption”, but it does not exempt a Parochial Church Council from the need to apply also for Planning Permission and/or Building Regulations Approval in a case where Planning Permission and/or Building Regulations Approval would normally be required, for example, in relation to the proposed extension of a church building or changes to the exterior of a church.
Click on the following links for the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and Care of Churches Measure 2018 and the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015. The Measure and the Rules are Crown copyright and are linked in accordance with the terms of Crown Copyright Policy Guidance issued by HMSO. Printed copies of the Measure and the Rules can be obtained from:
The Stationery Office Ltd., Tel: 0333 202 5070. Email: email@example.com
The Diocesan website has useful guidance on church buildings and the processes of applying for a faculty (including the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches).
Completion of works authorised by Faculty
Petitioners are reminded to complete and return to the Registrar the Certificate of Completion issued with the Faculty, when the work authorised by the Faculty has been completed. If the Certificate has been mislaid, please email or telephone the Registrar, who will be pleased to send a duplicate copy.
For those responsible for the maintenance of church buildings, some further useful information can be found at the Church of England’s Church Care web site.