Sir, — I read with astonishment the account of the Oxford Consistory Court held last month about two ancient chests from Oxford (News, 22 July), and applaud the Chancellor’s judgment and robust actions.
As a former member of the Salisbury diocesan advisory committee, I am aware that, even with the most carefully prepared faculty petitions, sufficient information can be missing. I was not party to any of the deliberations about the sale of an early-18th-century communion table from St Mary’s, Winterborne Stickland, Dorset, mentioned in the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments’ Dorset Inventory (1970). The table is thought to be
by Thomas Bastard (died 1720) of Blandford, who was responsible for much work in Dorset, especially for furniture in several churches. What advice was sought I do not know, but a facult for disposal was granted. Fortunately, the table was not sold abroad, and is still cared for in the county.
Circumstances could have been very different. Even when DACs have sought advice about the disposal of “an article of particular historic, architectural, archaeological or artistic interest” (Faculty Jurisdiction Rules, 2000), there might be occasions when some disagree with the advice a DAC gives to the Chancellor: this is certainly the case with the sale of the communion table from Winterborne Stickland.
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