[Bell Historians] Faculties (was G&J)

David Cawley dcawley at w...
Thu Jun 17 00:03:22 BST 2004

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The Clerkenwell affair was a bit naughty, whether or not the stories are to=
be believed. I have a transcript of the Consistory Court hearing (and four=
years on it was the same Chancellor who was to hear the Bow case). There i=
s nothing in the evidence, or in the Judgment, which suggests that CFJ tol=
d the Rector that the bells had been broken up, by mistake, or whatever; an=
d that when the Rector said they would just have to be recast, Cyril mopped=
his brow and turned to an employee and told him to break up those Clerkenw=
ell bells. There is simply no mention of this, and I have come to wonder wh=
ether it is one of those stories. The Chancellor did however admonish the R=
ector and Church Wardens, and Cyril Johnston, for proceeding to the work wi=
thout a Faculty. They applied only when it was decided (or whatever) to rec=
ast the ring and did not weait even for a decision on that.

Of course the result was a ring within a stone's throw of the City which ar=
e as near as can be as good as Jewry or as St Dunstan's were (duck).

Alfred Bowell featured in at least one Consistory Court case - at Chalk, Ke=
nt. He was actually accused of recasting the then three bells; a mistake o=
n the part of the 'expert' involved. He was however censured for removing t=
he canons contrary to the terms of the Faculty - "an act of wanton vandalis=
m which elewhere would amount to criminal damage" !

As for bells being necessary for Consecration, the theory is yes, the pract=
ice no. If I were the Bishop I would of course insist on the bell being hun=
g for ringing !

I'm not.

----- Original Message -----=20
To: bellhistorians at yahoogroups.com=20
Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 2004 9:33 PM
Subject: [Bell Historians] Faculties (was G&J)

The Ickleton example is one of the classics, as Mike says. Clerkenwell wa=
s another

But don't be too judgmental on Cyril Johnston, as the faculty system in i=
ts present form wasn't quite as it is now - and had only really started to =
be used for furnishings and fittings and other alterations after the introd=
uction of ecclesiastical exemption in about 1920. It's important to have r=
egard for how the system operated at the time.

The faculty system has been in use for many centuries, but it wasn't alwa=
ys used for everything. Even major church restorations were carried out wit=
hout faculties even up to World War I. To over-simplify, the system was rea=
lly used originally where property rights were affected - pew ownership etc=
. Towards the end of the nineteenth century come diocese started to expect =
faculty authorisation for memorials and windows, but even then bell work us=
ually escaped the net
The period after the establishment of DACs and ecclesiastical exemption s=
aw an existing mechanism evolved and adapted to suit a new need - and the s=
trings tightened. The key point is that the classic G&J cases of the 1920s=
were as much about DACs and chancellors tightening their grip as about CFJ=
acting in a cavalier manner in disregard of the system

An over-simplification, as I say, but an instance of needing to avoid jud=
ging the past by the norms of today.=20


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