When do I need a faculty?

Even though the work may have been recommended in the Quinquennial Inspection report or it is replacing like for like, a faculty is almost certainly required by the Church in Wales rules.

All of the following need faculty permission (as set out in the Church Constitution):

  • any change in use of a building or land
  • any alteration, addition or repair to, decoration, re-decoration or demolition of, or removal from, the fabric of a church
  • any alteration or addition to land, including the construction of new buildings
  • the introduction, removal, alteration or repositioning of, furniture, fittings, murals, monuments (including gravestones), plate and other precious objects, into, from, or in, a church or land, or the repair of any such furniture, fittings, murals, monuments, plate or objects
  • the alteration or addition to an inscription on any monument or gravestone
  • the acquisition of a permanent or exclusive right of burial in any grave, grave space, vault or tomb
  • the removal of a corpse, or human or cremated remains, from an existing grave, vault, tomb or plot

Maintenance

A faculty is not needed for routine maintenance work which keeps the church, its contents, or the churchyard clean and tidy or which keep electrical or mechanical items (including heating and lighting equipment, musical instruments and bells) in good working order.

BUT maintenance which involves replacement (other than of light bulbs and heating elements), redecoration, pointing, re-pointing, or rewiring DOES need a faculty.

Moveable items/furniture

Introduction or removal of some items may not need a faculty but may need permission from the Bishop and a consultation with the Representative Body.

Exploratory work

Sometimes exploratory work has to be done before the full works can be specified eg. opening up a section of roof, investigating plaster on medieval walls. Such exploratory work will probably need a faculty for the main work. Please check with the DAC Secretary if in doubt.

Other Permissions

Sometimes there is a need for other permissions in addition to Faculty approval eg: planning permission, building regulations and occasionally listed building consent too. It is the parish’s duty to check with the local authority if other consents are required.

Listed buildings

Many church buildings are listed as being of special architectural or historic interest. Changes to those building are controlled by CADW, on behalf of the National Assembly. The National Assembly for Wales however, gives the church what is called ‘Ecclesiastical Exemption’ this means that the church doesn’t have to go through the secular Listed Building Consent procedure when making alterations to churches. However, in order to retain this ‘Ecclesiastical Exemption’ the Church has to comply with a strict set of guidelines set out by the Government. CADW, the local authorities and the appropriate National Amenity Societies (eg The Victorian Society) all have a right to be consulted about any proposed work.

Unauthorised work on a church which is a Listed Building will be in breach of the state legislation as well as the Rules of the Diocesan Court.

In the diocese, this faculty procedure is administered by the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC).


NB: Further information on faculties can be found in Volume II, section 4.2 of the Constitution of the Church in Wales. The faculty system is governed by the Rules of the Diocesan Court.