In general any work to a church or a churchyard requires a faculty. That includes repairs and other works to the fabric of the church building, its contents (the introduction of new items, the removal or disposal of existing items, and re-ordering) and the monuments, paths and walls of the churchyard. This is subject to a number of exceptions set out in the Chancellor's General Directions on Faculties.
The existence of the faculty jurisdiction enables the Church of England to continue to enjoy exemption from the requirement of listed buildings consent from the local planning authority. It also provides, through the work of the Diocesan Advisory Committee (the DAC), expert advice to parishes. That advice may address technical issues which can arise even in the context of relatively minor works, but it is also available to parishes considering major projects and needing to balance mission, conservation and financial considerations.
Parishes are urged to consult the DAC at an early stage in the consideration of a project.
No decision on a faculty matter affecting a church building can be taken until the DAC has issued a certificate setting out its recommendations to the Chancellor. The Chancellor is not bound to accept the DAC`s views and a parish is free to petition for a faculty even if the DAC recommends against what is proposed. But, equally, any interested person (for example any parishioner, or any of the amenity societies with a special interest in churches from a particular period) may enter an objection.
It is very desirable that parishes considering major schemes consult widely to avoid last-minute objection. The Chancellor makes his decision either on the written material or, exceptionally, after a hearing which is usually held in the church in question.
No contract should be entered into for work to be done until a faculty has been granted or express authority given in accordance with these Directions.
If you are in doubt about any matter you should consult your Archdeacon or the Diocesan Registry.
See How to get a Faculty for information on new rules that came into effect on 1 January 2014.