Friday, 5 July 2013

Barlow Chancel Repair Liability

The story is found here  where sixty five house holders have found themselves receiving letters from the Land registry notifying them of the liability was created under an enclosure award of 1839.  This was unusually done by local agreement and a copy of  the award and plan is stored at the North Yorkshire Records Office Since it was done by agreement it was missed by me in my, fairly exhaustive, research of parliamentary enclosure acts (files top left here ) since a parliamentary act was the normal means of carrying out enclosures and creating the liability.

It would seem that the liability is that of 'land given in lieu of tithes' which makes the liability non-apportioned and so it is shared severally with the other owners of  the land. The PCC has the right to send the bill to one owner and  they can then ask the other owners to share in the cost of repairing the chancel.

Land owners response 

The first question to ask would be, was this liability was recorded on the deeds or Conveyance documents of the landowners? and if so they probably took out the Chancel Repair Liability insurance. If it was not recorded on the deeds I would suggest they got a copy of the enclosure plan to see if it is good enough  to identify the 'land given in lieu of tithe's' since I have examined several enclosure plans and awards over the the past year where they are not clear enough to prove liability. If it is not good enough there is a tribunal at the Land registry to contest the liability.

Another response 

The landowners could offer to compound the liability under Ecclesiastical Dilapidations Measure 1923 and pay the PCC off. This actually need not be a large sum because the Diocesan Board of Finance could accept a lower sum that the default figure after consultation with the PCC.


I think the whole situation of Chancel Repair Liability is slightly mad because to notify the liability on the land does not often forward the mission of the church but too fail to do so can actually put a PCC in a very difficult position. There are alternatives that the PCC could have considered they could have prioritised  the harm to the mission of the church or reputational damage but this would still have to be balanced against the  financial loss. The Charity Commissioners have some guidance here and it has to be said the vast majority of parishes, I have spoken to, have opted to not register their Chancel Repair Liability but admittingly because it was apportioned liability and very costly to trace the land owners. To even start finding apportioned liability  PCC's need to convert tithe maps onto a modern map and to locate possibly hundreds of plots of land and then to register the liability. In Barlow it is very likely that there is only one or two allotments of land hence if the map is reasonable it may be easy to locate the land and there is no need to go to great expense to overlay an enclosure on to a modern map.

Postscript 1

It is possible that the opportunity of chancel repair Liability insurance was not on offer since the databases of organisations that do this research may have missed it since it is not on house of commons papers 44 or 33.


Actually the enclosure plan is more likely to be stored at the West Yorkshire archive service.


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  2. I have some files to help PCC's research CRL and make decisions over on this webpage.