A COMMISSARY COURT will take place at St Mary the Virgin,
Eastry, in Kent, next Wednesday, to determine the petition lodged
by the parish for a confirmatory faculty for works already
completed to the roof of the north and south aisles.
It is understood that the lead roof of
the 13th-century church, part of the benefice of Eastry, was
replaced with felt after four lead-thefts.
A spokesperson for the diocese of
Canterbury said: "It would be inappropriate for us to comment
further on these issues whilst they are before the Court. A
detailed judgment will be issued by the Commissary General, Miss
Morag Ellis QC, later in the year."
Advice from the Church Buildings
Council, issued this month, states that, "for a great many" roofing
applications, lead remains the most appropriate material; but it
recognises that this is "not always realistic" after a theft. The
use of non-metal alternatives is, "in general", not
The churchyard wall and gates to the
north, east, and west of St Mary's are Grade II listed by English
Heritage. Proposals to change the roof covering on Grade II listed
buildings do not need to be seen by the charity. Nevertheless, its
updated guidance (
News, 28 September 2011) on the theft of metal from churches
favours like-for-like replacement as the ideal repair approach for
A "durable replacement" such as
terne-coated stainless steel or tiles "might be the most prudent
way to repair the building", it states, but "support for the use of
plastic or other non-traditional materials in listed places of
worship would be exceptional."
The guidance suggests that "most" of
the alternatives to lead are "visually inappropriate" and
"relatively expensive to install, even using a material such as
felt, which should last for ten years".
Geoffrey Stollard, a chartered builder
and member of the Fabric Committee at St John's, Bromsgrove,
believed to be the first Grade I listed church to be granted a
faculty to replace stolen lead with fibreglass (
News, 9 November 2011), said on Wednesday that the diocese of
Worcester was "lucky" to have a Chancellor who is a fully qualified
architect, surveyor, and barrister.
"He analysed every argument he could
get, and was quite happy that nobody could give any reason why not
to use glass fibre," said Mr Stollard, who argues that lead would
"never" be used on commercial premises, and that the noise produced
by rain on a stainless-steel roof and its cost are
The Commissary Court at St Mary's will
start at 10 a.m., and is open to all.