Working on Churches

Advice for parishes and clergy on the permission needed for different types of works on church buildings and churchyards.

The Diocese of Chester is custodian of a rich and varied heritage of some 300 church buildings.  Most of these buildings are grade-listed.  100 of them are listed at Grade I or II* as being of exception national or even international interest.  Many of these churches are truly inspirational works of faith which deserve the utmost care in their preservation and sensitive development.  In managing these buildings, PCCs have a responsibility towards past, present and future generations of worshippers, and to the community at large.

The "faculty system" (under the "Ecclesiastical Exemption") is the legal control for work to churches.  It replaces, in law, Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent.  The faculty system allows the Church a valuable degree of freedom to develop its buildings in line with worship requirements.  It must remain at least as stringent as the parallel secular systems of control, otherwise the Church risks losing the exemption in favour of secular control.  The faculty system is operated by the Diocesan Chancellor, assisted by the Diocesan Registrar and taking advice from the Diocesan Advisory Committee.

PCCS must by law:

Guidance is available on all aspects of work to churches.  A helpful overview of the Ecclesiastical Exemption is also available.

You can easily check the grade listing listing of your church, why it is listed, plus whether any other structures (such as walls or sundials) in your churchyard are listed.  You can do this by consulting the Historic England listing database.