Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Kingston upon Thames Chancel Repair Liability


I am interested in this parish because it three detectable sources of Chancel repair liability over the internet and one of those is very rare. It is also possibly going to have to have a fourth that of 'merged land and tithe' but that can only be found by reading the tithe apportionment.

Liability 1: 1808 Enclosure Act 

House of Commons paper 44 lists many enclosure acts and Kingston upon Thames can be found with in this paper. Here it is noted below.

The effect of this act (copy can be ordered from here) was that in the parish of Kingston upon Thames in an area known as Imbercourt there was an allotment of 1/9th of the land given to the Lay Impropriators and Vicar for the tithes. This land that which was given for tithes would still today bear the liability. From reading it would suggest that some land was given to the vicar but that would not have the liability as an effect of an 1923 measure.

There is a road called Embercourt in Thames Ditton which may or may not be the same area. There is also a large estate owned by the police called Imber Court. There is only one way of checking this and that is to look at the Enclosure award and map and that is located at the Surrey History Centre in Woking under reference QS/79/1/1/41 . As can be seen by looking at the link the enclosure award appears to includes more than one parish and so the liabilities could potentially involve other parishes although unlikely. Reading enclosure awards and plans can be quite hard and I give some tips here.

Liability 2:  1936 Tithe Act

The 1936 Tithe Act apportioned out Tithe rent charge liability into a small amount per field and each parish has a mysterious calculation per field but it often works out something like a field is liable to £0.40 per £10,000 of damage to the chancel (fuller explanation here). This is  by far the largest form of liability and frequently it is not cost effective to pursue any owner of this land for the money even if the PCC should desire to do so.  It is unfortunate people often take out insurance that exceeds any possible liability when they leave in these areas but chancel checking organisations only check if there is a possibility of liability not what type.

Liability 3:  1847 Special Apportionment

Kingston upon Thames enjoys a liability which is quite unusual it is where a land owner transfers the liability from some of their land to a particular allotment meaning they can sell the other land liability free. The details of the particular field or field is recorded at the national archives in IR .97/1 and so to find it's location there would be a need to view this file in conjunction with the tithe apportionment and map. The details of the amount of liability is uncertain but it is likely to be not apportioned. There is also the chance there is a trust in existence indemnifying the current owners.

Worth Enforcing?

Both the first and third form of liability are probably easily traceable and also quite cost effective to enforce since all they involve is seeing if the early maps can be married up with modern maps and if they can't that is the end of the story but with modern mapping it may be surprising easy.  If the maps can be matched up  it may well cost under £50 to register the liability and possibly an equivalent amount of money to copy the relevant documents.
With both of these liabilities if even if there is no trust in existence indemnifying current owners it is likely that the owners of the land are aware of the liability as it would normally be recorded on the deeds.

What should a PCC do?

Each PCC is it's own charity and should make a reasonable decision based on all information available .In my opinion there should be a full investigation so that charity is furnished with all the information  since there is a possibility that there is a trust in existence to indirectly repair the chancel or the land is occupied by a large wealthy land owner.
It is possible that the land with the liability is now occupied by houses and any registration could cause reputational damage to the charity (the local church). In this case it is likely  that the individual PCC members are likely to want to write to the charity commissioners to prove they are not  in breach of trust and to see if they also agreed with their conclusions that any registration would cause harm to the PCC. There is also has the added advantage that if there was ever a need for a grant for the repair of the chancel the PCC can show they have support for making a reasonable decision.

My general helps on found on the top left here.

Minor update

The 1870's ordnance survey map shows an area in 'Imber court' marked as glebe which may or may not mark the land with the liability but it is at least a possibility.

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