The burden of buildings is crushing the Church of England

Church

There’s a debate in Britain right now over whether it still is or a “Christian” country. There’s no doubting Britain Christian heritage. Wherever you go you’ll find church buildings dating back hundreds, even a thousand years or more. 

There’s a downside. The cost of repairing all England’s 14,500 listed places of worship is almost £1,000,000,000. Who is going to pay the bill? Church attendance is declining and the age of parishioners is rising.

Here’s a legal solution that just may dampen the ability of a local church to reach its community…

The Church of England has been denounced as “evil” and “unholy” as parishes around the country enforce an archaic law dating to Henry VIII’s reign telling unwitting residents they could face bills exceeding £100,000 for building repairs.

At least 250 Parochial Church Councils, who administer Anglican parishes, have registered Chancel Repair Liability (CRL) against 12,000 properties where ancient deeds permit this. Under the medieval law affected landowners, whether or not they are Anglicans let alone Christians, can be liable for repair of their local Anglican church if built before 1536 even though this was not shown in their deeds when they purchased the property.

Andrew and Gail Wallbank became responsible for maintaining 13th century St John the Baptist Church in Aston Cantlow, Stratford, when they inherited a farm. After centuries of not being enforced the local PCC invoked the liability in 1990 demanding £100,000. Their 18-year legal battle ended in 2009 with the Law Lords ruling in the PCC’s favour landing the Wallbanks with an overall bill of £350,000. They auctioned the farm to pay for their costs.

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(Thanks to readers Dave and Jay)