Listed Buildings and Treasures

Listed Buildings

  • Many of the Churches in the Diocese of Norwich are important listed buildings. Where works involving alteration to a listed building are likely to affect its character, significant contents or archaeological importance, the DAC will expect consultation to take place with the relevant National Amenity Societies. Advice should be sought from the DAC before a faculty application is submitted, to ensure that the appropriate consultations take place.
  • Repairs to the fabric of listed buildings where the parish has previously received a grant from English Heritage  – consult English Heritage.
  • Repairs which alter the appearance, e.g. a change of roof materials –  planning approval may be required so you must consult your local District Council. If the church is listed also ensure that English Heritage is consulted.
  • Extensions or alterations to listed buildings will require consultation with English Heritage, the local authority, the appropriate National Amenity Societies and the Church Buildings Council. The Council has issued Guidance on Consultation with CBC to assist parishes.
  • Internal re-ordering or alteration e.g. by sub-division of listed buildings, if at all significant, may also require consultation with these bodies.
  • It may also be necessary to advertise proposals affecting listed buildings in a local newspaper

The Church Buildings Council publishes much helpful material on its website at

Sale of Church Treasures and other Movables

It is important to note that the sale of church treasures and other movables, including furnishings, will require a faculty. A buyer who buys movable property from a Church of England church will not acquire good title to the property unless a faculty has been granted for the sale. The faculty will be considered in the light of previous judgments of the Consistory Court, notably Re St Gregory’s, Tredington, [1972] Fam 236, and Re St Peter’s Draycott [2009] 3 WLR 248, but essentially a strong reason or reasons must be shown as justification for the proposed sale.

The main principles governing faculties for the disposal of movable property are as follows (Re St James, Welland [2012], ELJ 144 per Mynors C):

(i)        a good and sufficient ground must be proved (Re St Gregory’s, Tredington[1], approved in Re St Helen’s Brant Broughton[2]);

(ii)      the onus of proof lies fairly and squarely on the petitioners (Re St Helen’s, Brant Broughton[3]);

(iii)      a relevant fact indicating that there should be no faculty may be that the articles are a part of the heritage and history not only of the church but also of all the people, present and future, of the parish (Re St Mary the Virgin, Burton Latimer[4]);

(iv)      the jurisdiction should be sparingly exercised: Re St Gregory’s, Tredington[5] and Re St Mary the Virgin, Burton Latimer [6]

A recent case on the sale of Church treasures, dealing with a fifteenth century chalice known as the Lacock Cup, has recently been determined. A copy of the judgement, which sets out the relevant legal principles, is at In re Lacock St Cyriac (Bristol Consistory Court). The judgement draws attention to the strength of feeling which can sometimes be generated by proposals to sell Church treasures.

Rule 9.6 of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 requires consultation with the Church Buildings Council on proposals for the disposal of articles of special historic, architectural, archaeological or artistic interest. The Church Buildings Council has published (in May 2014) a revised Guidance Note on this subject, which may be viewed at CBC Guidance on Sale of Church Treasures. This provides helpful guidance on the CBC’s views on this issue. This paper should not be taken to reflect the law on the subject of the disposal of church artefacts – it simply sets out the CBC’s views. Early advice should be sought from the Diocesan Registrar if the sale of important artefacts or other movables is proposed.

[1] [1972] Fam 236, at p 240.

[2] [1974] Fam 16, at p 18.

[3] [1974] Fam 16, at p 18

[4] (unreported) 10 October 1995 , at p 7.

[5] [1972] Fam 236, at p 247

[6] (unreported) 10 October 1995 , at p 7.