Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Humbleton Chancel Repair Liability update 2

From the Press

The Daily mail has reported on it and as you would expect there is a key of error in it's reporting it states

The government looked to abolish the law 10 years ago and gave churches a decade, until October 13 this year, to register properties for chancel repair liability with the land register otherwise they would not be able to make a future claim

Whilst in reality a parish can definitely register after Oct 13th the key differences after that date is that it is more expensive to register the liability and in the example of Humbeton this might be a factor and if the land was sold after that date without the liability being registered the liability is extinguished.

It also states

The law only came to light in 2003 when married couple Andrew and Gail Wallbank were told they had to pay £100,000 to fund repairs of their ecclesiastical parish's medieval church at Aston Cantlow

Which is another inaccuracy since people had been paying Chancel repair liability for hundreds of years and indeed the Wallbanks knew about the liability when they acquired that land and there was a law commission report on it in 1985 asking what should be done with this ancient charge. The Wallbank case certainly moved the issue into the conciousness of the general public  and it became apparent that it is something that affects not only large land owners but also the general public. To say the law only came to light in 2003 is slightly over egging it but then it is the Daily Mail.

Elsternwick Enclosure

As I stated before there was an enclosure award in the parish Humbleton near Elsterwick that created land bearing the liability in a non-apportioned form.

From House of commons paper 44

This shows that there was land given to a lay Impropriator (lay rector) and this land bears the liability  and some land for the Vicar and if that ever had the liability that has now been lost.

Second Extract

This extract unusually states roughly where the land bearign the liability would be but to actually locate the land would mean a visit tot he East Riding Record Office to view the Enclosure award and Map and to see if the map can be cross referenced with a modern map. Enclosure award liability is frequently recorded on the deeds of the property and so it is likely the owners are aware of the liability unlike Mr Wood and the other people of Humbleton.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Hints of what to do if your property is registered with chancel repair liability

Letter from the Land Registry

In the event you should get a letter from the land registry the first reaction should be not to panic because it may not be that bad although without a doubt there is going to be some concern and you will need to do some research yourself.

The first action should be to look at your property deeds and to see what they say do they mention ecclesiastical dues or liability to repair or some similar kind of statement within them and that point it is likely that the notice is genuine.
No matter what your deeds say I believe any property owner should immediately object and use the appropriate form from the land Registry probably UN4. This will give some breathing space.


It is possible that you have chancel repair insurance in which case you check on it's terms but it will probably only protect you if the PCC came asking for money which may not be for many years. It is unlikely to mitigate the negative consequences of the registration to the title of your property.

Ascertain the Liability

There are many sources of liability and the first stop is to find a copy of your parish's tithe apportionment and any enclosure award and get to these documents  very well and copy it all with a decent digital camera. My guides on this website can assist you in reading them and working out what the liability is due to.
You may be liable but chancel repair is very complicated and it is possible that there are other liabilities in the parish that the PCC missed and other owners are jointly liable with you and then I believe speaking to a specialist solicitor to see if you could register on other properties is a way forward.
Or you may discover the PCC make a mistake and registered your property incorrectly in which case you can have the notice removed.

Previous owners of the land

Check in the conveyance documents of the land since there are a number of cases when previous owners of the land indemnify all future owners this may be mentioned explicitly or it may say something like 'land sold without ecclesiastical dues'. This could be great if it is a large organisation or the estate is still around and wealthy or completely valueless if the estate  has ceased to exist. This might also explain why the PCC is registering since they, like you, will not know the state of any indemnification.  If this is true then as a matter of urgency discover the terms of the indemnity and contact the relevant estate.

Paying the PCC off

If the liability on your property is apportioned with a small amount of liability then compounding or paying the PCC off is a real possibility and this could well be a relatively small sum. If you think this is a way forward then the  first port of call is the local Diocesan Board of Finance and offer to compound the liability under the 1932 Chancel repairs act  . The only chancel which is known to have been compounded in the recent past was Aston Cantlow and the compounded value of that chancel was £36,500 for an entire chancel.

(minor update 7th October)

Humbleton update

It seems that the the PCC are registering apportioned liability under the 1936 tithe act which would seem to be at least slightly odd considering the existence of an enclosure award. It is quite time consuming and expensive to register apportioned liability when compared to registering enclosure award liability. I do not have access to any documentation and so it is hard to know what is actually taking place but I do know there is no enclosure award in Humbleton itself and so it is either merged land or apportioned liability. Apportioned liability is better documented and there is a so called 'record of ascertainments' for all affected churches with copies held in the national archives.

New update 

Just reached the local press

Friday, 20 September 2013

Humbleton Yorkshire Chancel repair liability ( Elsternwick)

I am hearing rumours of a PCC registering the liability in the ancient parish of  Humbleton. If this is true it will  could be a result of an enclosure award made in Elsternwick (or Elstronwick) around 1806 which gave an allotment of land in lieu of tithes.

Update little more research

It seems that there was also a merger of land and tithes in the parish and this involved a few hundred acres of land and that should also be liable.

Further Research

it seems that all although the Hotham family were considered to be the impropriators of the Humbleton the owners of the rectory tithes in Elsternwick were the Bell family the relevant part of he page is

'The Appleyards' interest evidently passed to John Bell (d. 1809), who owned the rectorial estate at Elstronwick, except for the tithes of the closes belonging to Burstwick parish. At inclosure in 1813 his trustees were awarded 23 a. for his glebe land and 40 a. for some of the tithes; Frances Bell, his widow, was then allotted 88 a. for the rest of Bell's corn and hay tithes. (fn. 61)'

These allotments for tithes and glebe bear the liability for the chancel.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Merging of Land and Tithe

Or Merging Land and Extinguishment of Tithe

This form of Liability  only gets a minor mention on the national archives website  on chancel repair liability and is frequently ignored and yet it is probably the second largest form of liability after the land covered by the record of ascertainments.  This form of liability and not accurately recorded on tithe apportionments. This seems to be the case in some parishes but there are plenty where the liability is quite provable and it seems to be dependent on whether the Vicar was still getting the lesser tithes and the approach of the individual tithe commissioner.


People who owned the land and also owned the tithe coming from the land had the opportunity to merge the land with the tithe and to extinguish paying the tithe to themselves but to transfer the liability into the land . Many land owners decided to do this since it saved administration and money and at the time did not change the liability for the chancel.
By merging the land with the tithe, the liability was moved from the tithe owner to the land owner which at the time made no difference then, but hundred and fifty years later may make a substantial difference. There has been no act of parliament or decision to apportion this liability out and so to this day this liability still stands.

Merging of Tithe Rent charge

In the majority of places the land owners opted to merge tithe rent charge with the land land after commutation and this liability was apportioned out by the record of ascertainments created by  the 1936 tithe act. These two liabilities, 'merged land and tithe' and 'merged land and tithe rent charge' not surprisingly, people find confusing, but the nature of the liability is quite different.

How much liability  for merging of land and tithe?

In theory every small piece of merged land and tithe is liable for the entire chancel but how that would work in practice would be up the various lay Rectors to apportion it and I suspect there may well be very complicated court cases if a PCC ever came to claim some money

Friday, 13 September 2013

Radio 4 Sunday and Chancel Repair Liability

Recently on the 15th September there was a programme on Radio 4 Sunday which featured Chancel Repair Liability and in many ways it was great since it featured the problems PCC's are dealing with and highlighted many issues.

Key Mistakes

There was though one important mistake it repeated several times and that was that former church land carries the liability and this is absolutely not true in virtually all cases of church owned land the liability was either removed in 1923 or 1976. The only exception to this is if the land was formerly owned by a bishop or Dean or other senior clerical office (appropriator)  this liability may remain but often, it is owned, ultimately by the Church Commissioners. Hence land called or houses with the phrase glebe or rectory or vicarage as part of the name are places that are the least likely to have the  liability.
 The land that bears the liability is land that once was owned by Lay Rectors (or impropriators) not land owned by the Clerical Rectors. It was unfortunate that a good programme should be marred with a basic misunderstanding of the law.
It is also forgot to include the issue of their being two different forms of liability, that of apportioned liability, which is by far the largest form of liability and that of non-apportioned leaving, I believe, most people thinking that any land has complete liability for the chancel when this is, simply, not true.

The Example of Preston in Rutland

The reporter visited Rutland and the PCC  had been concerned about the liability and assumed their parish church  had it. Apparently they wrote to the charity commissioners saying they did not want to pursue it due to pastoral damage they may cause.
The problem with the story was that the parish of Preston in Rutland never had the liability in the first place.

A small extract taken from House of Commons paper 44

In 1773 the land that may have taken the liability was given to a Clerical Rector and any liability tied to former land owned by a Clerical Rector has long since been extinguished. So whether the Charity Commission released the parish from not doing a research on a non-existence liability remains a little mystery. In my opinion to not research, if indeed that was what happened, was a mistake for the parish of Preston may well have discovered that some very wealthy and ancient body were responsible.

As can be seen from the above extract the opposite is true of Newbold in Warwick where the land was given to a lay person and in that parish there may well be land that has the liability.


The programme was great in highlighting the issues but from my perspective a real understanding of the complexity of chancel repair liability was not expressed and their is a danger of people getting the wrong impression  of where the liability could be found and what it is like.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

From the files

Places with chancel repair liability as a result of an enclosure award 

This is a extract from a pdf file of places which probably have chancel repair liability as a result of an enclosure award made after 1771 via an enclosure act and there also seems to be an enclosure plan in existence so liability could well be proved. The full file can be downloaded from here.  The 1757 to 1771 can be found here.