Section C. Church buildings

C1. Faculty jurisdiction

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How to apply to make changes to your church building

Alterations to consecrated buildings and land, and to the furnishings of churches, generally require the authority of a faculty granted by the Chancellor of the Diocese in the Consistory Court. This requirement is designed to preserve the integrity of church buildings, many of which have significant heritage value and are listed accordingly, and to ensure conformity with the doctrine and practice of the Church of England.

By virtue of what is known as the ecclesiastical exemption alterations thus authorised are exempted from the requirements of the secular legislation relating to listed buildings and scheduled monuments. However, where planning permission would be required in the secular sphere (for example, because the exterior appearance of a building is affected), it is still required in the case of buildings subject to the faculty jurisdiction.

Minor Works

Certain minor works are excepted from the need to obtain a faculty by virtue of Schedule 1 to the current Faculty Jurisdiction Rules (as to which, see below). Table 1 List A sets out matters which may be undertaken without the need for consultation and Table 2 List B those which may be undertaken subject to consultation. In both cases there are specified conditions, and Rule 3.5 sets out matters which can never be undertaken without a faculty (for example, works affecting a listed building that would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest) even if they otherwise qualify under List A or List B.

In addition, temporary re-ordering on a minor scale may be permitted by the Archdeacon. The installation of certain memorials can be authorised by incumbents exercising powers delegated by the Chancellor, but if the proposal falls outside the parameters of the delegated powers a faculty petition will be required.

Seeking Guidance

The law and procedures of the Consistory Court are complex. They are set out principally in the Care of Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 2018 and the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 (amended by the Faculty Jurisdiction (Amendment) Rules 2019); useful advice as to costs is to be found in the Guidance for the Award of Costs issued by the Ecclesiastical Judges Association in January 2011. The Church Buildings Office will be your first port-of-call for receiving advice as to whether a matter requires a Faculty and, if so, what to include in a petition.This may include appropriate plans, drawings, photographs and specifications in addition to the application forms which will provide a full description of the intended works and the need for the works to be undertaken.A flow chart mapping out the steps of a faculty application is located at the bottom of the page.

Applying online

To make your faculty application you must sign up to the online application portal and complete the petition online. Those supporting documents (drawings, images etc.) are uploaded to the portal and all further communication and transactions are conducted through the online system. User manuals are available on the site, or contact the Church Buildings Office for help on completing an application.


Consultation with statutory bodies and the public at large is a key element of the faculty jurisdiction, and intending petitioners should begin in most cases by obtaining the advice of the Church Buildings Team to ascertain which bodies should be consulted and a timeline for such consultations. The Registry is also pleased to advise at any stage. All consultations are undertaken through the online portal.

Petitioners for reservation of grave spaces and for exhumation should initially approach the Registry. It is wise also to contact the Registry at an early stage in cases involving the sale of chattels.

Urgent Matters

In cases of urgency the Chancellor may be willing to curtail the consultation process, as set out in his “Urgent Works: a Note on Procedure”, which is available on this website; and in extreme cases (such as the imminent collapse of an ecclesiastical building or real danger to the public) he may even be prepared to authorise an interim faculty immediately. If you have an emergency situation then contact your Archdeacon in the first instance, who will guide you.


All recent judgements of the Worcester Consistory Court, along with those from other dioceses are available to view on the website of the Ecclesiastical Law Association. Many are specific to the issues they address but some are of wider significance and consider issues of principle applicable to other petitions.

Archaeology Guidance

The Diocesan Advisory Committee has advisers on many specialist matters. One of the key advisers is the adviser on archaeology. If you are intending to apply for faculty and your proposals involve changes to the fabric of the church or ground works in the graveyard please contact the adviser via the Church Buildings Office. Advice provided at the design stage and before submission of faculty could save time and money.


Church Buildings Office (also for the DAC) Mark Carter, Church Buildings Officer / Secretary to the DAC
01905 732809 / mcarter@cofe-worcester.org.uk

Diocesan Registry (also for the Chancellor) Liz Matthews, Secretary to the Registrar
01905 727222 / liz.matthews@smesolicitors.co.uk

Archdeacons’ Office Kathy Jones, PA to the Archdeacons
01905 773301 / kjones@cofe-worcester.org.uk

March 2020