What is a Faculty

Faculty jurisdiction is a system for ensuring all repairs and alterations to churches and churchyards are planned and carried out with proper consideration given to the historic fabric and architectural significance of the building, and to the archaeological impact on the churchyard.

It is administered by the Consistory Court of the Diocese. The faculty is a licence issued by the Court on behalf of the Bishop, permitting work to be carried out.

A faculty gives permission to carry out development to:

  • a building used for public worship or its contents
  • the churchyard or other consecrated buildings and land

Church of England churches enjoy “ecclesiastical exemption” – in other words, the faculty process replaces the need for listed building procedures which apply to secular buildings and, importantly, allows for due regard to be given to the “role of a church as a local centre of worship and mission”.  Faculty jurisdiction does not replace the general planning laws: Building Regulations apply and planning permission will be required when alterations affect the exterior of a church, the churchyard or the change of use of part of the church. 

Faculty jurisdiction applies to listed and unlisted churches.  All repairs and alterations to churches and churchyards, including furnishings, fittings, additions and removals, are subject to the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 as amended by the Faculty Jurisdiction (Amendment) Rules 2019.

The decision to grant a faculty is made by the Chancellor of the Diocese having considered the advice given by the DAC.  All applications should come to the DAC first except for exhumations or the reservation of grave spaces.

When is it needed?

A faculty is required for works which do not fall within List A or List B in Schedule 1 of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules

These lists include a number of conditions, and a number of items specifically require a faculty:

  1. any works which involve alteration to or the extension of a listed building
  2. any works which are likely to affect the archaeological importance of a building or any archaeological remains within a building or its curtilage;
  3. any works in respect of all or part of which scheduled monument consent is required;
  4. any works which involve extension, demolition or partial demolition of a building, or the erection of a new building;
  5. any matter which gives rise to a question of law or of doctrine, ritual or ceremonial or which would, if undertaken, affect the legal rights of any person;
  6. the exhumation or other disturbance of human remains;
  7. the reservation of a grave space;
  8. the sale or other disposal of any article of architectural, archaeological, artistic or historic interest;
  9. the sale of any book remaining in or belonging to a library to which the Parochial Libraries Act 1708 applies;
  10. the introduction of an aumbry or any other receptacle used for the reservation of the sacrament of Holy Communion;
  11. the introduction of, or the carrying out of any work to, a monument of the kind referred to in section 3 of the Faculty Jurisdiction Measure 1964(b).


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