Dealings with ecclesiastical land

Q. Where can I find guidance relating to acquisitions and disposals under the New Parishes Measure 1943?
A. The Church Commissioners provide information about the acquisition and disposal of churches, church sites, churchyards, burial sites and parsonages under the New Parishes Measure 1943 here. Suggested forms of transfer for acquisitions and disposals under sections 13 and 17 of the 1943 Measure, along with background notes, may be downloaded from the resources on the right.

Q. Do you have a register indicating liability for chancel repairs?
A. Neither the Church Commissioners nor the Legal Office is a central authority in chancel repair matters. Enquirers wishing to ascertain liability arising from former tithe rent-charge are advised to inspect the records of the former Tithe Redemption Commission at the National Archives, Ruskin Avenue, Kew, Surrey, TW9 4DU (a preliminary phone call on +44 (0)20 8876 3444 is recommended before visiting). Any queries about the Commissioners' own chancel repair liabilities should be directed to the Commissioners' Pastoral Division at pastoral@churchofengland.org (tel. +44 (0)20 7898 1000).

Q. Do you have a copy of an old deed relating to my property? I think it was previously Church property.
A. It is possible that a copy of the deed is held in the Church of England Record Centre, although the Centre will not automatically release details that may have been private contractual matters between the parties at the time. Please contact the Record Centre at 16 Galleywall Road, Bermondsey, London SE16 3PB; tel: +44 (0)20 7898 1000; email: archives@churchofengland.org.

Q. What is consecrated land? Is the owner of consecrated land restricted in what can be done with it? Can land be de-consecrated?
A. Consecrated land is land which has been consecrated for use for sacred purposes. It is subject to the jurisdiction of the Chancellor of the diocese in which it is situated. This means, in particular, that an application for a faculty (permission) to do anything to or on consecrated land must be made to the Chancellor through the diocesan registrar, the solicitor appointed to act for the relevant diocese and its bishop. The legal effects of consecration may be removed from land only by a statutory procedure, normally that prescribed by the Pastoral Measure 1983.

Q. Is there a stamp duty saving or exemption if I buy property from the Church of England?
A. Until the end of November 2003 a stamp duty exemption benefited buyers of some kinds of Church property, for example, parsonages that were no longer required. On 1 December 2003 stamp duty - a tax on documents - was replaced by stamp duty land tax - a tax on transactions. The old exemptions from stamp duty on deeds transferring property out of Church ownership do not apply to stamp duty land tax. Accordingly there is no saving or exemption from stamp duty land tax by virtue of the fact that the property is being acquired from the Church of England.

Q. Do you have a list of former parsonages or churches that are for sale?
A. The Church Commissioners maintain a list of former churches for sale. There is no similar national list of former parsonages and for these you should contact the diocesan office of the diocese in which the property is located.

Q. How do I become an ecclesiastical property lawyer? It sounds such fun!
A. If you have managed to get this far online, you have already demonstrated the patience needed to master the complexities of ecclesiastical property. We recommend you have a look at the latest edition of Ecclesiastical Law by Chancellor Mark Hill (3rd edition, 2007) for further information about ecclesiastical property law and about ecclesiastical law generally.