BMEWS
 
Sarah Palin is the only woman who can make Tony Romo WIN a playoff.

calendar   Saturday - December 13, 2008

Pay £500,000? God help us, say couple forced by a medieval law to foot the bill for church repa

This is a very long but a MUST read!  So I won’t add to this and besides, there isn’t anything I could add.
Learn something new every day.

INTERESTING!

Gail and Andrew Wallbank inherited their beautiful home. But it came with a hidden timebomb...

By Victoria Moore
Last updated at 1:03 AM on 13th December 2008

This is a beautiful spot. The church of St John the Baptist stands in the Warwickshire village of Aston Cantlow, in a small churchyard scattered with gravestones and dotted with neatly trimmed yew and holly.

It’s here that Shakespeare’s parents are thought to have married, and if the walls look a little crumbly and uneven… well, perhaps that’s only to be expected of a building that dates back to the 13th century.

To Gail and Andrew Wallbank, however, the flaking masonry that surrounds the church’s stained-glass windows - and the suspiciously leaky-looking patches inside - are less a source of picturesque charm than one of stomach-gnawing anxiety.

This is because, due to a peculiar ancient law that goes back to the reign of Henry VIII, the Wallbanks, who own a nearby farmhouse, have found themselves saddled with the repair bill for the chancel - the eastern end of a church, in which the pulpit and choristers’ stalls are normally found. And it isn’t small.

At the last count, the sum owed was £186,989. Plus VAT. (They must, I think, be the only people in England feeling a real sense of relief about the 2.5per cent cut in VAT.) Oh, and then there’s the interest, which they say they are paying at 8per cent and which began accumulating in February 2007.

Add to that the £200,000 they have spent in legal fees fighting their case over the years, and the Wallbanks are looking at a figure close to half a million. ‘And it’s not as if that’s the end of it,’ says Gail, 60, fastening up a bobbly jacket that looks as if it has seen better days.

‘This could go on and on. We have to finance any repairs the chancel needs, which effectively means we’re in the position of providing an open cheque-book. We now have until February 16 to find the money and I just don’t know how we’re going to do it. We’re at our wits’ end.’

The Wallbanks are a warm, calm and attractively dishevelled couple who, as well as raising a family of seven, have been fighting the case for 18 stressful years.

So far, it has been to the High Court, the Court of Appeal and all the way to the House of Lords, which found in favour of the Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) in 2003, and in 2007 set the amount that the Wallbanks now have two months to pay.


A plague on unwitting homeowners

Having exhausted all their legal options, the couple understandably feel some degree of despair as the deadline approaches. Soon they may not be the only ones - indeed, there may be many thousands of other Britons who are unknowingly in the same position.

For the implications of what is effectively a test case could be wide-reaching: a blessing for the cash-strapped Church of England, which has many dilapidated buildings in urgent need of repair, but a plague on homeowners who may unwittingly own land - a garden, field, allotment or even the plot on which their house is built - that carries a chancel repair liability.

This, as Andrew Wallbank drily puts it, can be ‘a bit like winning the Lottery in reverse’. In other words, it can suck hundreds of thousands of pounds from the unfortunate loser’s bank account.

Such chancel repair liabilities are thought to apply to some 5,200 pre-Reformation parishes in England and Wales - though nobody knows for sure how many properties might be affected, as the legal documents are, in some cases, both ancient and in poor condition. That’s if they can be traced at all. The law in question dates back to medieval times, when the parishioners had a duty to repair the nave - the part of a church in which the congregation sits to worship - while the rector had a responsibility to repair the chancel end. A rector would pay for his share of the repairs using income from land attached to his rectory - ‘glebe land’ - as well as from tithes.

After the dissolution of the monasteries, that land was dispersed but never separated from the obligation to pay for chancel repairs, making the new landowners ‘lay rectors’.

In successive years, some of this land has been sold and re-sold, divided up, developed on and changed hands many times so that its history of liability has sometimes been forgotten. Nor is it always found in rural parishes: one case is known of in Fulham, South-West London.

Fast-forward to recent times, and the cash-strapped Church has been busy encouraging its PCCs to seek out any lay rectors it can find - and quickly, because chancel repair liabilities will become unenforceable unless they are registered at HM Land Registry by 2013. For some people, their happy ignorance may be about to come to a halt, as it did for the Wallbanks.

‘I inherited Glebe Farm, which is about half a mile away from the church, from my father,’ explains Gail. ‘We were actually married in the church, in September 1973, but moved away from Aston Cantlow a few years later to live on a sheep farm in Wales.

‘After my father died, rather than sell the farmhouse or move back, we rented it out. At first, my mother and brother lived here; afterwards we had other tenants.’

And then, out of the blue one day at the beginning of 1990, a letter arrived from the church wardens of St John the Baptist.

‘We hope that you are well and are enjoying your life in that beautiful part of Wales in which you now live,’ it began with ominous good cheer. But it then continued: ‘As the owner of Glebe Farm, you know that there is a charge. . . for the maintenance and the repair of the Chancel of St John the Baptist.’

It went on to detail the outcome of an architect’s report, which suggested that a large amount of expensive work needed to be done to the Grade I listed church - among which were three windows that needed repairing at a cost of £2,000 each - and concluded that, ‘if a large job is necessary, we are obliged to ask for your financial support’.

The ever-increasing demands for cash

To Gail and her husband Andrew, far more alarming than this polite request for money was its open-ended nature. As Mrs Wallbank puts it: ‘We didn’t mind making a voluntary donation to its upkeep - someone, after all, has to pay for these beautiful old buildings and we’d got married in this church - but the fear was that this would go on and on. If we paid one year, how much the next, and the next? How much would it end up costing us?’

The answer to that we now know to be about £200,000. But back then the Wallbanks were merely at the start of a protracted legal odyssey that has consumed their lives for almost two decades since.

They have had to become experts in tithe law, and spend days poring over the minutes of PCC committee meetings. They have even commissioned experts to transcribe an 18th-century Enclosures Award document written on vellum - fine parchment made from calfskin - so fragile it can be handled only by someone wearing gloves and whose script is so faint it must be examined under ultraviolet light.

Mrs Wallbank’s father bought Glebe Farm at auction in 1970 (a year when the average house price was £4,950) for the sum of £41,500. The sale documents do include a clear reference to the chancel repair liability, which it notes ‘is still subsisting and capable of being enforced’.

Gail, however, says her father had made inquiries, including with the vicar at the time, and was confident this clause was a mere anachronism with no legal force. Thus, on inheriting the farm, she too felt reassured that this amounted to nothing more than a gentleman’s agreement.

With the benefit of hindsight, this assumption sounds naive. But the Wallbanks point to the handwritten minutes of an extraordinary meeting of the PCC in July 1968 which was concerned with raising funds for work on the chancel roof. In these, it is noted: ‘Vicar said that while he would approach Mr Terry [the then owner of Glebe farm] he had been informed by Diocesean lawyers that this [obligation] had no weight in law.’

The Wallbanks also say they have been unable to find any case in which any owner of Glebe Farm has, over the centuries, been required to foot any bill for the chancel, though some have done so voluntarily.

‘My father had also made a contribution to the church repairs,’ says Gail. ‘He paid for some of the ornamentation on the church tower to be replaced, and that wasn’t connected at all to the chancel.’

The church fights back

SEE CHURCH FIGHTS BACK for all the photos and the rest of the story. Yes, there’s more.


avatar

Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/13/2008 at 11:21 AM   
Filed Under: • EconomicsReligionTaxesUK •  
Comments (2) Trackbacks(0)  Permalink •  
Page 1 of 1 pages

Five Most Recent Trackbacks:

Once Again, The One And Only Post
(4 total trackbacks)
Tracked at iHaan.org
The advantage to having a guide with you is thɑt an expert will haѵe very first hand experience dealing and navigating the river with гegional wildlife. Tһomas, there are great…
On: 07/28/23 10:37

The Brownshirts: Partie Deux; These aare the Muscle We've Been Waiting For
(3 total trackbacks)
Tracked at head to the Momarms site
The Brownshirts: Partie Deux; These aare the Muscle We’ve Been Waiting For
On: 03/14/23 11:20

Vietnam Homecoming
(1 total trackbacks)
Tracked at 广告专题配音 专业从事中文配音跟外文配音制造,北京名传天下配音公司
  专业从事中文配音和外文配音制作,北京名传天下配音公司   北京名传天下专业配音公司成破于2006年12月,是专业从事中 中文配音 文配音跟外文配音的音频制造公司,幻想飞腾配音网领 配音制作 有海内外优良专业配音职员已达500多位,可供给一流的外语配音,长年服务于国内中心级各大媒体、各省市电台电视台,能满意不同客户的各种需要。电话:010-83265555   北京名传天下专业配音公司…
On: 03/20/21 07:00

meaningless marching orders for a thousand travellers ... strife ahead ..
(1 total trackbacks)
Tracked at Casual Blog
[...] RTS. IF ANYTHING ON THIS WEBSITE IS CONSTRUED AS BEING CONTRARY TO THE LAWS APPL [...]
On: 07/17/17 04:28

a small explanation
(1 total trackbacks)
Tracked at yerba mate gourd
Find here top quality how to prepare yerba mate without a gourd that's available in addition at the best price. Get it now!
On: 07/09/17 03:07



DISCLAIMER
Allanspacer

THE SERVICES AND MATERIALS ON THIS WEBSITE ARE PROVIDED "AS IS" AND THE HOSTS OF THIS SITE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ANY AND ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF SATISFACTORY QUALITY, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, WITH RESPECT TO THE SERVICE OR ANY MATERIALS.

Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.

THE INFORMATION AND OTHER CONTENTS OF THIS WEBSITE ARE DESIGNED TO COMPLY WITH THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. THIS WEBSITE SHALL BE GOVERNED BY AND CONSTRUED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND ALL PARTIES IRREVOCABLY SUBMIT TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE AMERICAN COURTS. IF ANYTHING ON THIS WEBSITE IS CONSTRUED AS BEING CONTRARY TO THE LAWS APPLICABLE IN ANY OTHER COUNTRY, THEN THIS WEBSITE IS NOT INTENDED TO BE ACCESSED BY PERSONS FROM THAT COUNTRY AND ANY PERSONS WHO ARE SUBJECT TO SUCH LAWS SHALL NOT BE ENTITLED TO USE OUR SERVICES UNLESS THEY CAN SATISFY US THAT SUCH USE WOULD BE LAWFUL.


Copyright © 2004-2015 Domain Owner



GNU Terry Pratchett


Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
free counters