THE Consistory Court of the diocese of London granted a faculty
for the parish priest of St Mary's, Bourne Street, to sell three
sets of vestments, because they were "generally regarded as
mistakes", were "not in keeping with the present vestments", and
had been bought "without sufficient consultation with the PCC".
The Deputy Chancellor, the Revd and Worshipful Justin Gau, said,
however, that he found it "extraordinary" that the "very
considerable expense" of buying the vestments had gone ahead
without "sufficient consultation", especially as they had been
purchased within the past few years.
The sets of vestments were identified as red high-mass vestments
that were described as "Gothic in shape"; gold high-mass vestments
that were regarded as "too yellow for our gold setting"; and green
high-mass vestments that were described as "bad design, too
It was assumed that all these vestments had been purchased by
the PCC. If any had been gifts, or purchased out of gifts of money,
the PCC would have had to satisfy the court that they had made
sufficient enquiries of the donors about what should happen to the
The Deputy Chancellor said that the church website stated that
"St Mary's mission is funded largely from direct giving by those
who worship at the church, the parish being unusual for a central
London parish in lacking significant endowments of property or
investments." In those circumstances, the Deputy Chancellor said,
the "careful stewardship of parish resources should be
Nevertheless, while he deplored the potential waste of
resources, that was entirely a matter for the PCC and parish priest
to deal with, and was not an argument for refusing the petition for
a faculty. The petition was based solely on "matters of
aesthetics", and the Deputy Chancellor said that, as a matter of
taste, it struck him that the vestments were "perfectly acceptable,
and to the untutored eye might be deemed sumptuous even for the
most jaded of Spanish cardinals".
It was a truism, he said, that most faculty applications for the
disposal of church property based solely on its aesthetic
appreciation would be rejected out of hand.
If this were a petition for the disposal or removal of anything
else, the Deputy Chancellor said that he would have no hesitation
in rejecting it. The faculty system was designed "to reject
whimsical applications based upon individuals' personal
But the vestments appeared to have been introduced into the
church without a faculty, were deemed unsuitable by the priest, the
Revd David Cherry, and the PCC, and their disposal was not opposed
by the DAC. In those circumstances, the Deputy Chancellor said, he
could not impose his personal views.
The faculty was granted for the disposal of the vestments,
subject to the putting of the monies realised towards replacements
of designs that were to be approved, and minuted as approved, at a
meeting of the PCC.