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...a little bit of law - Chancel Repair

19 January 2017

Chancel repair liability occurs when a landowner is responsible for the cost of repairing a church of the Church of England or Church in Wales.

It is a remnant of ecclesiastical law stemming from the reign of Henry VIII. Rectors were responsible for maintaining the church chancel and the parishioners the nave. When Henry VIII took over rectorial property upon the dissolution of the monasteries in around 1540, he also took over the liability to repair the chancel attached to these properties. Most of the land has long been sold off by Henry and his successors, but the liability lives on – and attaches to the land. It therefore binds whoever owns the land now.

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