Now it begins.

Now it begins.


Posts are being installed outside the eastern end of Bath Abbey to support hoarding – that could be there for more than two years – as local builders Emery’s ‘officially’ start preparing for the stabilising and reconstruction work they will be carrying out in and around the historic building.


These posts will support the hoarding but still leave a path for those going to services at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

Meanwhile, hassocks and seating fabric rolls are being put into storage as work begins to remove pews from the eastern end.


Hassocks and pew seat covers being taken away.

It’s my understanding that the first memorial floor slabs will be lifted at the beginning of July – affecting the eastern end of the interior.


Looks like an altar is taking shape on a temporary podium at the crossing point.

Bath Abbey insists its ‘business as usual’ during the lengthy operation to stabilise the floor and install new central heating.


The whole ‘business end’ of the Abbey will have to be brought forward into the nave so hoarding can go up.

There are also new facilities planned for the choirs and public – including a new Discovery Centre which will tell the Abbey’s story.


Contractors are using a door at the eastern end to take material out.

It’ll also result in the permanent removal of pews in the nave with new look seating making for a more flexible use of space.

This is all part of the £19.3 million pound Footprint Project which has been added by a massive Heritage Lottery grant and private donations.


This is as far as you go now.

Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios – local architects for the Project – also welcomed the official start of work in a tweet on Twitter.

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All will be revealed.

All will be revealed.

Prepare for the east end of Bath Abbey to disappear behind hoarding in about six weeks or so as building contractors Emery’s get down to the business of starting to lift memorial or ledger stones.

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The first part of Bath Abbey to be affected by the floor reconstruction work.

The local building firm has won a multi-million-pound contract to secure the unstable Abbey floor, install new heating – tapped from Bath’s thermal waters –  and construct various new facilities for staff, choir and visitors.


Some sort of temporary altar will have to be set up.

It’s going to take several years to complete the job but the first area to be tackled – the east end –  will mean moving the high altar and choir nearer to the congregation so work can begin behind the screens.

The Abbey is insisting that – though facilities may be restricted at times – it WILL be business as usual and they will even be continuing their Tower Tours.


bath abbey floor

The trial work of 2013


A few years ago Emery’s were involved in a trial piece of work carried out to test the technique of injecting a liquid agent into the cavities that had formed amongst the thousands of burials under the floor.


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Drilling holes for the fluid injections of August 2013


It fills and hardens and so stabilises the floor. In doing the work they had taken up a fair few memorial or ledger stones which were relaid afterwards.

Many more stones lie beneath the nave pews and – now they will gradually be permanently removed – many more ledger stones will be seen for the first time in 150 years.

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The central aisle inside Bath Abbey

Emery’s initial work was watched by a young local man involved in writing a dissertation for a Master of  Arts degree as part of his architectural studies.

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Ian Parkes – now employed by Bath-based architectural firm Stride Treglown – based his thesis on an area of Abbey flooring. It was called “The Stone remains – Mapping Place at Bath Abbey.”

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He was back in the building today to lead a tour of local people interested in hearing more about the ledger stones and what they told us of the Abbey and its social and spiritual history.

One of those in Ian’s group today was the Abbey’s Interpretation Officer, Dr Oliver Taylor. He and a grou of volunteers have been busy recording the details of all the ledger stones currently visible in the Abbey.


There will be many more to record as the pews are gradually removed. However, as the stones themselves will have to come up – so the floor can be stabilised – will they be going back where they were.


Bath Abbey going​ green.

Bath Abbey going​ green.

Bath Abbey’s been given the go-ahead to turn ‘green’! It’s been granted a ‘lease of rights’ by B&NES Council to use some of the energy in Bath’s famous hot springs for an innovative eco-heating system to heat the complex.


sacred spring

The Sacred Spring


Every day, a quarter of a million gallons of hot water flow from the Sacred Spring underneath the Roman Baths complex and through the Great Roman Drain into the nearby River Avon.

This underground journey takes it directly past the Abbey. If harnessed correctly and converted as part of the Abbey and B&NES Council’s joint initiative, it could produce 1.5 megawatts of continuous energy – more than enough to heat the Abbey and surrounding buildings.


Part of the Roman drainage system that the Abbey has been given permission to access with heat exchangers.

As part of the Abbey’s ambitious Footprint project – which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund – engineers plan to install heat exchangers in the Great Roman Drain which will capture the energy in the hot water and transform it into renewable energy. This will form part of a unique underground heating system that will be then used to heat the Abbey and other buildings.

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Charles Curnock, Project Director.

Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director from Bath Abbey, said: “This is a truly exciting and inventive way of tapping into Bath’s most famous resource to create sustainable energy. As far as we know, it has never been done before on this scale, and we are thrilled to be working with the Roman Baths and other departments of B&NES Council on this unique project.

“By granting us the lease of rights, the Council has set us on our way to providing a sustainable and eco-friendly solution for both the Abbey and the city of Bath by capturing this incredible and ancient natural resource which is currently unused.”

Charles Curnock added: “This a major change for the Abbey, but one which is vital now and for future generations. Our current heating system dates back to the Victorian era, is extremely inefficient and expensive to maintain. This combined with the work we’re doing as part of our wider Footprint project to repair the Abbey’s collapsing floor makes this the ideal time for us to consider a new underfloor heating system.”

Bath Abbey - Looking East

Bath Abbey – Looking East – proposed improvements.

The initial trials and investigations for the project have already taken place, and more planning and development is being carried out before further building work on the Abbey’s Footprint programme starts. Wessex Water will be digging and laying pipes that will carry hot water from the Roman Baths into the new eco-heating system. Any modern elements of the system would be hidden underground and an archaeologist will be working alongside the engineers to document any artefacts that may be uncovered by the required excavations.

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Bath’s MP, Wera Hobhouse.

Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath and Liberal Democrat spokesperson for communities and local government said: “This is a progressive, sustainable project for the Abbey, yet remains quintessentially Bath. This collaboration is a real achievement, and everyone should feel proud that they are adding to Bath’s heritage in an environmentally friendly manner. Along with the wider Footprint Project, it will really add value to the city. I look forward to attending services knowing the building is heated by the same water to which Bath owes its very existence.”

To find out more about to support the Footprint project, visit Your donations will be generously matched by the Brownsword Charitable Foundation. This means that any donation you give to the Footprint project will automatically be doubled: if you donate £10, the Brownsword Charitable Foundation will also give £10 – your £10 donation is worth £20 to Footprint! Simply use the reference ‘FPBF’ when donating.

Bath Abbey - Looking West 2

About Bath Abbey’s Footprint

The £19.3 million Footprint project aims to carry out essential repairs to the Abbey’s collapsing floor, install a new eco-friendly heating system using Bath’s unique hot springs as a source of energy and enlarge capacity by creating 200sq metres of new facilities to fulfil the Abbey as a place of congregation, equal access and hospitality. A programme is also planned to record and interpret the Abbey’s 1,200 years of history and this iconic church for millions of visitors including educational visits. Thanks to a grant of £10.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, additional funds from private individuals and trusts, as well as the Abbey’s own congregation and visitors, the Abbey now has just over £1 million left to raise.

For further details about Bath Abbey, please visit




Raise a flag​ for Bath

Raise a flag​ for Bath

Back in the 18th century, when Thomas Baldwin built the Guildhall, Bath was very much a city in its own right. The current Bath-stone building replaced a Stuart Guildhall, which itself replaced an earlier Tudor structure.


The Bath Guildhall

For centuries this has been the town hall and the residence of the Mayor of Bath. The current one – Cllr Ian Gilchrist – became the 790th mayor of the city when he was elected last June.

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The Mayor of Bath, Cllr Ian Gilchrist.

Bath was made a County Borough in 1889 and remained a city council until the demise of Avon and the arrival of the B&NES authority in 1996.

The Mayor is just a figurehead now – an ambassador for Bath – a civic leader with no real power but a rallying point for those with pride in their city.

A few months ago l was wonder why Bath didn’t have its own flag. You’ll see a Union flag and a rather limp logo for B&NES fluttering in the breeze above the city but – though there is a spare pole – no city flag.


The empty flagpole on the Guildhall roof.

A bit of digging and l discover there is a flag – bearing the city’s coat of arms – but as the Guildhall is now the town hall for the whole of Bath and North East Somerset – it wouldn’t be appropriate to fly it above the building.

Unofficially, l have been told it is now regarded as the Mayor of Bath’s flag but – as the Mayor’s Parlour is STILL housed in the Guildhall – why can’t it fly on the roof in his ( or her) name?

Asking Bath Abbey to fly it on the day that the Mayor Making ceremony is happening within is also a good idea!


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Bath Abbey


I don’t think it is a bad thing to encourage people to take pride in the city of Bath. Indeed l have set out to fly the flag on my own flagpole at home.

I went to see Mr David Dixon at Minuteman Press in Walcot Street – himself a former councillor and now Honary Alderman – who very kindly ran me a little number from his stored image of the city’s coat of arms.


Hon Alderman David Dixon holding the ‘official’ City of Bath flag he ‘ran off’ for me at Minuteman Press.

I am told you can’t copyright this flag because there are so many versions of the city’s coat of arms decorating various parts of the city – but l was also told you need the permission of the Mayor and his fellow Charter Trustees if you want to hoist your own version on high.


This one is a bit different.

I sent an email a few weeks ago and am waiting to hear back.


Another version.

Many Batb visitors buy souvenir flags when they are in the city. I am also hoping there might be a City of Bath flag on the racks soon for them to take away.

The version l have was featured in a previous article on Bath Newseum. Here is the text.

“You’ll come across various visual interpretations of Bath’s coat of arms around the city but the one l am showing you is based on the earliest depiction from 1568 in William Smith’s Particular Description of England – now in the British Museum.


The official one!

The ownership of the crest is actually unclear as there is no longer a Bath City Council – the city is now part of a unitary authority which does not display the crest on its documents or website.

Let’s take you through the coat of arms from bottom to top.

The motto – Aqua Sulis or Waters of Sulus – is the Roman name for Bath.

A lion and a bear hold up the shield and stand on oak branches with acorns which are linked to King Bladud – the legendary founder of Bath – and the man feeding his pigs acorns when they ran off to discover the steaming mud and thermal waters of the hot springs.

The lion stands for bravery, valour, strength and royalty. The bear for strength, cunning and ferocity in the protection of one’s kindred.


Another version.

The shield depicts the town wall, the mineral springs and River Avon and the sword of St Paul – one of the patron saints of Bath Abbey – which is also the town’s parish church.

The lion and bear also display the crossed sword and keys – representing both patron saints. St Peter – who held the keys to the kingdom of Heaven – shares the protection of the Abbey with St Paul.


And another version

Above them, the crown of King Edgar – first king of all England – is held aloft by the arms of St Dunstan who performed his coronation in Bath in 973 AD.”




Go fix your flags!

Go fix your flags!

The red, white and blue of our Union flag was imprinted upon my brain at an early age. I was nearly four when Elizabeth Regina went to collect her crown. Though the event was televised – we all had to view the images in black and white.


We didn’t have a television – there was only one in our whole street – but l was given a Coronation Book as a memento – and that was in glorious colour.

Pages and pages of ceremonial and flag fluttering – all reinforced by this little boy (and his elder sister) being taken to a Coronation Fete in the village in which we spent our early lives.

A field bedecked with red white and blue bunting – as was the commemorative spoon we were each given. A bow of patriotic ribbon tied at the handle end of each utensil.

The spoon has disappeared from my life – as has the dark-blue, hard-back-covered coronation book – but the pride in our country’s flag lived on. That is – until the result of the EU referendum was given.


The Union flag that was once proudly flown in our back garden.

I went straight out into the garden and lowered the Union flag that had fluttered over our part of Lower Swainswick ever since I’d erected a proper 30-foot high flagpole. It went straight into the dustbin.

However, I wasn’t going to waste my investment and – besides – the pole was set in concrete. So l turned to the county in which l had been born.


The county flag of Somerset.

Somerset adopted the flag of its county council back in 2013 – after a competition to design one resulted in a winning design that basically just did away with the mace – the symbol of the county council’s authority.

So the red dragon of Somerset – on its sunshine yellow background – unfurls in the winds above the houses and fields of our neighbourhood.

It will be replaced on May 9th to celebrate Europe Day – with the circle of stars that still holds my heart.


I like flags. That’s the reason l noticed the poor showing a Union flag and the flag of B&NES were making on top the Guildhall.


The Union flag on the Guildhall

At first l though the national flag had been cut in two but realised the end had caught on the flagpole. The other lag is just faded and tattered.

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The B&NES flag is nothing to be proud of either!

Though l first raised this over a week ago. The Union flag is still caught. Apparently the Council – because of health and safety issues – has to pay a firm to come and raise and lower their flags. Obviously, they are reluctant to spend any extra to release the caught edge of the fabric.

Maybe we could launch a city-wide appeal to raise the money to get both flags lowered and replaced with new and brighter versions.


The flag of St George on top Bath Abbey is past its best too!

While we are at it – our local authority isn’t the only ‘body’ that should look to its colours. The English flag of St George – on top Bath Abbey tower – is also shredded and past its best.

Symbols are important. These are devices that bring us together under a shared heritage.

PS. That’s better Bath Abbey. Un-shredded Union flag flying above the church tower on Sunday, March 11th!


Abbey’s congregation pews will go.

Abbey’s congregation pews will go.

Bath Abbey has now confirmed that what l discovered on Facebook this morning is correct.

Emeritus organist at the Abbey,  Peter King made the following announcement.

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Peter told me the decision came through yesterday and ‘It’s great news!’

Now the Abbey has issued the following statement:

‘We were very pleased to learn yesterday evening that an application for permission to appeal against the decision regarding future seating in the Abbey has been refused, enabling the Abbey’s Footprint programme to now go ahead without the threat of another court hearing.


This means that, once the collapsing floor has been repaired, the Abbey has permission to reveal the historic floor of the Abbey for the first time in 150 years and to use comfortable chairs in the main body of the church.


This is a vital part of our #FootprintProject – to find out more about our future plans for the Abbey, click here:’

Charles Curnock who is Project Director told me: ‘this is another very positive step along the way to making Footprint a reality.’

I have also asked The Victorian Society for comment. The Choir and Corporation pews will be retained.

If you care to read on – here is the judgement!



1. As the chancellor said at the outset of his judgment, [2017] ECC B&W 1:

“Bath Abbey…occupies a commanding position in the centre of the City of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Abbey is a Grade I listed building, and ….one of the architectural gems of England. It is also a focal point for worship and community activity in and beyond the City boundaries”.

Following a hearing which attracted considerable news coverage, the chancellor allowed, subject to conditions, a petition for the removal of the nave pews and their replacement by chairs of a particular design, notwithstanding the objection of the Victorian Society as party opponent. The Victorian Society now renews its application for permission to appeal (permission having been refused by the chancellor).

2. I gave directions under rule 23.4(2)(a) of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 for the purpose of determining the application on consideration of written representations, and in reaching my determination I have had regard to the Victorian Society’s Grounds of Appeal (“the Grounds”) and Reasons in Support of the renewed application (“the Reasons”), to the petitioners’ Response to Grounds of Appeal (“the Response”), and to the Victorian Society’s Reply thereto (“the Reply”). The factual background was very fully set out in the judgment itself, and I have not been supplied with, nor considered it appropriate or necessary to obtain, either the “Evidence Bundle” or the closing submissions of the parties (though reference was made to these in both the Grounds and the Response).

3. Under rule 22.2 permission to appeal may be granted only where:

“(a) the appeal would have a real prospect of success; or

(b) there is some other compelling reason why the appeal should be heard”.

Under rule 23.4(3) the determination of an application for permission to appeal “must state the Dean’s reasons”.

4. Under rule 27.11(2) if the appeal were to proceed to a substantive hearing, the appeal court can only allow an appeal where the decision was –

“(a) wrong; or

(b) unjust because of a serious procedural or other irregularity in the proceedings in the lower court”,

[2018] EACC 1

As the Court of Arches said in In re St John the Baptist, Penshurst [2015] PTSR D40 para 33 :

“……when challenges are made to a judge’s reasoning and to the adequacy of the reasons he gave:

“the essential test is: does the judgment sufficiently explain what the judge has found and what he has concluded as well as the process of reasoning by which he has arrived at his findings” (Re B (Appeal: Lack of Reasons) [2003] 2 FLR 1035 para 11).

Allied to this is the need not to adopt too narrow a textual analysis of a judgment when approaching the question of whether a judge has misdirected himself.”

5. The Response kindly describes the Grounds and the Reasons as “extensive”. The former runs to 15 pages (18 paras and many sub-paras), the latter to 4 pages (14 paras) (by contrast its Reply is commendably brief). In the Reasons the Victorian Society summarises its criticisms of the judgment under six headings, and I shall follow the approach taken in the Response “that these are advanced as the VS’s ‘best’ points”, whilst bearing mind mind the claim in the Reply that “the Victorian Society will [presumably if the matter comes to a substantive hearing] comment on the Petitioners’ omission to deal in their Response with many points relied upon by the Victorian Society in its Grounds and Reasons”.

(1) Alleged bias

6. The allegation is that the chancellor “revealed bias against the Victorian Society” in his treatment of the evidence, because he accepted as evidence of support for the scheme the letters attached to the Rector’s witness statement, whereas in respect of the signatures to a Memorial opposing the scheme, the chancellor commented upon “the notable absence of any objection from parishioners (or others having proper interest) in response to the public notice….” (his para 26). This is said to have been “quite unfair”, and it is claimed that “it is even unclear what “public notice” he was referring to”. It is entirely clear that the public notice was that to which the chancellor had referred in the first sentence of his para 9, and which had “elicited no objection to this or any other feature of the works”. As the chancellor said (para 26), “The response of others having a proper interest ought to have been in the form of letters submitted after public notice”. He noted that these replies were to an online petition which had been “couched in terms of protest” (“…we ask you to sign our petition to urge Bath Abbey to halt their destructive scheme”), and that “the objectivity of the signatories is obviously open to question”. That was a view he was entitled to take, and in any event he observed that “Wisely Mr Blackett- Ord [counsel for the Victorian Society] did not put the online petition at the forefront of its case”, which makes it the more surprising that the chancellor’s treatment of the online petition should now rank foremost in the Victorian Society’s Grounds and Reasons. So far as concerns the chancellor’s treatment of the letters in support of the scheme, which in the Victorian Society’s view were less than objective, the chancellor’s reliance on them was limited to the observation that they “lend support to the practical grounds which have been advanced by way of justification” (para 31). I share the view expressed in para 3 of the Response that the chancellor’s judgment, both on this aspect and taken as a whole, was “scrupulously fair and balanced”, and I do not consider that there is the slightest chance of an appeal succeeding on the ground of bias.

(2) Approach to the status and value of the pews

7. The allegation is that the chancellor “played down the status of the pews, and their value as part of the whole church interior”. Complaint is made that it was “perverse” of the chancellor to have concluded that the nave pews form “the subsidiary part of a coherent seating system” (para 47) and are not a “distinguished element” (para 62) of Sir George Gilbert Scott’s scheme of restoration. The difficulty for the Victorian Society is that, as is admitted in the Reasons, the

[2018] EACC 1

chancellor accepted (para 49) that the nave pews were unique in that they are “the best set of their type attributable to Scott”. Nevertheless, on the basis of the evidence before him, it was open to him to reach the conclusion (not, I think, disputed) that the nave pews were of lesser distinction than the choir and corporation pews (which are to be retained), and also of lesser distinction than much else of the Scott’s restoration scheme. His conclusions, if seeming perverse to the Victorian Society, fall far short of perversity as understood by lawyers.

8. The nub of the complaint is the chancellor’s finding (para 51) that “the significance of the nave pews, put in the context of the perpendicular interior of the Abbey, is moderate”. However, the chancellor listed his reasons for this finding in the final sentence of that paragraph, and adverts to corroborating evidence in the subsequent paragraph of his judgment. This then led on to his finding, under the third Duffield question, that “the harm arising from loss would also be moderate”, in the sense of being “less than serious but greater than insubstantial” (para 56). There was no error of law in the chancellor’s conclusion, though others could rationally have concluded that the harm was more serious, as the Victorian Society contended. Whether the chancellor in that paragraph wrongly telescoped Dr Brandwood’s answer to the chancellor’s own question (para 50) is immaterial, nor do I consider it to be properly arguable that the chancellor misunderstood or failed to have regard to the evidence of Dr Miele, quoted in para 3 of the Grounds, that “the interior…is wholly a product of the Victorian period”. In this context I deliberately ignore the observation of the chancellor in refusing permission to appeal that his conclusion under the fifth Duffield question would have been the same, even had he found the harm to be serious, rather than moderate.

(3) and (4) Conclusion on public benefit

9. The allegations are that the chancellor’s conclusion on public benefit is confused and not clear; that he failed to analyse the various heads of justification individually; and that if he had done so, “he would have perceived that each amounts to almost nothing, even if it actually exists”. The Response looks carefully at the chancellor’s approach, and robustly concludes that “there is accordingly no lack of clarity in the Chancellor’s consideration and the VS attempt to manufacture confusion in this regard…is simply a cover for a disagreement with his clear conclusions”. I need only set out one sentence from para 61 of the judgment:

“In terms of public benefit the advantages of innovative liturgical use of the nave, the availability of comfortable seating adaptable to the requirements of the disabled or very young, the ability to put the nave to multiple community purposes, and the opportunity to appreciate the original architectural form of the nave and the collection of ledger stones make a formidable combination”.

There is no confusion, lack of clarity or irrationality, nor is the chancellor properly to be criticised for having addressed the petitioners’ justification in the way he did, concisely, albeit in two different sections of his judgment. There was no failure to address the Duffield questions “in the right order”. In particular, whilst the Victorian Society assert (para 5 of the Grounds) that the chancellor’s reference (in para 36) to an improvement in appreciating the nave’s perpendicular style involved several “errors of fact”, his conclusions on the various matters were within the bounds of what was properly open to him. The same applies to a related assertion in para 10 of the Grounds. Nor can the chancellor’s alleged failure “to take into account the visual mess that would be made by the presence of up to 600 loose modern lightweight chairs in the nave” be properly categorised as an error of law, in circumstances where the chancellor plainly had regard to the evidence about the visual aspect of the proposed chairs (paras 36-41).

(5) Erroneous approach to the fifth Duffield Question 10. The allegation is that the chancellor:

[2018] EACC 1

“did no more than pay lip service to the requirement of the fifth Duffield Question, which requires not a simple balance between the actual harm and the perceived future social benefit, but a strong presumption against the harm being allowed. The petitioners get nowhere near satisfying such a presumption even if they were right on all the factual “justifications” that the Chancellor found in their favour. The trivial or illusory hoped-for benefits go nowhere against the harm to the splendour and utility of the building that would be suffered….”.

This ground is entirely hopeless for two reasons. First, it assumes that the benefits were “trivial and illusory”, whereas the chancellor found them to constitute “a formidable combination” (para 61). As the Response pithily points out, “the VS assertion… relies on circular logic which assumes the truth of what it sets out to prove”. Second, the chancellor expressly referred (para 63) to “the listing of Bath Abbey and the strong presumption against change”, as matters “properly brought into account”. There is no warrant for the allegation that this was mere “lip service”, and the chancellor has adequately indicated that the desirability of preserving the listed church and any features of special architectural interest which it possesses “is a consideration of considerable importance or weight” (see In re St Peter, Shipton Bellinger [2016] Fam 193 para 48).

(6) Failure to consider the Victorian Society’s alternative

11. The allegation is that the chancellor “failed to give any consideration to the Victorian Society’s proposal that three rows of nave pews at the front and four at the back might be removed to allow ample space around the nave altar and for manoeuvrability at the back whilst retaining three-quarters of the pews”. This allegation is entirely without merit. I need merely set out para 59 of the judgment:

“It has been necessary to consider with care whether the Petitioners’ objectives are compatible with the retention of some or all of the Scott nave seating. The Victorian Society propose that the pew platforms be abandoned so as to enable the pews to be moved. This suggestion was properly investigated by the Petitioners, but I accept the evidence of Mr Rich [the petitioners’ architect] that the weight of the pews and their unsuitability for stacking renders this arrangement impracticable. I have also concluded that the preservation of an isolated block of pews in the nave would serve no useful purpose, especially as the Corporation pews with their benches behind them preserve a visible example of Scott’s work as well as providing a suitable area for traditional services.”

I am at a loss to see how it could be argued that the chancellor failed to give any consideration to the matter. Moreover, in respect of the chancellor’s phrase “isolated block of pews”, that description is not to be challenged as “an error of law”, merely because three-quarters of the nave pews would have remained.

(7) Other matters

12. A fusillade of alleged errors of fact and law is contained in paras 3-10 of the Grounds, some only of which were specifically relied upon in the Reasons, without any being formally abandoned. Most of these I have already addressed. Of these the only one of which I need say more relates to the chancellor’s holding (para 35 of the judgment) that “Mr Rich has given satisfactory evidence that the future risk of erosion [to the ledger-stones] may be addressed by a combination of strategies including the placement of vulnerable stones in protected areas, the careful levelling of the floor and the creation of appropriate visitor routes”. The Victorian Society relies on answers by Mr Rich said to have been given under cross-examination that he had not concluded that there would be no damage to the ledger stones; and that no investigation or report had been commissioned to investigate the effect of 450,000 persons walking over the stones, but he was making investigations which “still had some way to go”. Even assuming that, in the overall assessment which had to be made in this case, the possibility of some damage to

[2018] EACC 1

the Georgian ledger stones (which appears to have been a matter initially raised by the SPAB rather than by the Victorian Society, see para 4 of the Grounds) was an issue of more than relatively minor importance, the chancellor’s careful wording “satisfactory evidence”/“may be addressed” falls some way short of a finding that there would be no damage whatsoever to them. Accordingly the alleged error of fact does not appear to have been made.

Overall conclusion

13. In several recent cases the Victorian Society has successfully identified errors of law in first-instance faculty decision-making (Penshurst and Shipton Bellinger, both cited above); and in Re St Botolph’s, Longthorpe [2017] EACC 4 it was granted permission to appeal, although the proceedings resulted in a consent order. But in the present instance, whilst its initial objection was entirely understandable and the issues deserved the close scrutiny which a consistory court hearing involves (and did involve in this case), I am satisfied that its application for permission to appeal does not meet the test of having a real prospect of success. Nor do I consider that the undoubted importance of Bath Abbey (or any other matter) is such as to provide “some other compelling reason why the appeal should be heard”, nor does the Victorian Society so contend.


14. Under rule 23.5(1)(b) of the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015, I have a discretion in relation to costs. The Victorian Society shall bear the petitioners’ reasonable costs of submitting the Response (to be taxed by the Provincial Registrar if not agreed), and the court costs of considering and determining the application. Such costs shall be paid within 14 days of receiving notification from the Provincial Registrar of the amounts concerned. Although rule 23.5(1)(b), unlike rules 19(2) and (3) which (by virtue of rule 2.1(2)) apply to substantive appeals, make no provision for representations on costs to be made, I shall allow the Victorian Society 7 days to submit (if so minded) any representations as to why it considers a different order for costs should be made.

[2018] EACC 1

1 March 2018

CHARLES GEORGE QC Dean of the Arches


Ring my bell!

Ring my bell!

Bath Abbey’s historic Tower was the site of 38 marriage proposals last year as individuals climbed 212 steps to the top of the city landmark to pop the question to their loved ones.

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Bath Abbey

The Abbey has been offering visitors tours of its Tower for nearly ten years but only launched its Romantic Tower Tours a few years ago. Since its first Romantic Tower Tour in 2012, over 180 couples have enjoyed this experience. The couples range from those who live locally to as far afield as Australia and the United States with reasons for taking the tour including being on honeymoon or wanting to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Increasingly, the Abbey’s Tower Tour Guides have reported a trend in visitors surprising their partners with marriage proposals while on a Romantic Tower Tour.

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Looking down on the Christmas Market and Roman Baths

Holly Doughty, Events and Tower Tour Lead, said: “We usually get special requests from one of the couples, so we tend to know in advance but we of course never give the surprise away. Usually, we’re hidden around the corner waiting for the “Yes!” before we appear with a bottle of champagne to congratulate the happy couple.

bath abbey

Looking across to the Rec and Bath Rugby ground.

We’ve been running Romantic Tower Tours for more than five years now and usually get a couple of proposals each month but it’s always still really fun for us. The best part is that we can claim a 100% success rate. All proposals made up here have ended up with a happy engagement! At 49 metres high, surrounded by stunning 360-degree views of Bath, love definitely must be in the air up here!”

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey – the lantern of the west!

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, why not book a Tower Tour for two for a fun and imaginative way to celebrate the day? Tailored for two, couples will get to spend quality time together at the top of the tower enjoying glasses of champagne surrounded by spectacular views of the city. Other highlights include sitting behind the Abbey clock-face, chiming the Abbey bells and standing on top of the famous vaulted ceiling.

Tower Tours View of North West

A view from the top of the tower – looking towards the Guildhall.

To book a Romantic Tower Tour, contact Holly Doughty, Bath Abbey’s Tower Tour and Events Lead, today on: 01225 422462 Prices start from £100 (per couple) depending on timings and availability.

Bath Abbey also offers Tower Tours for individual visitors and groups. Tickets cost £8 per adult, £4 per child. The fully guided tour takes 45 – 50 minutes and tickets can be purchased from the Abbey shop on the day only. Group bookings need to be booked in advance.

For more information, please see

Bath Abbey

The Bath Abbey bellringers.

Top 7 facts about the Bath Abbey Tower

  1. The Abbey Tower is 49 metres tall and there is a total of 212 steps to climb before reaching to the top.
  2. Bells have been rung at the Abbey since before the 16th century, and this tradition is carried on to this day.
  3. There are ten bells in total. If an Abbey ringer from the 18th century entered the tower today, he would feel quite at home. Not much has changed: eight of the ten bells date from 1700, two smaller bells were added in 1774 to make the present ring of ten, and they still hang in the original timber frame.
  4. The heaviest bell – called the tenor – weighs about 1.7 tonnes (1,688kg) the equivalent of a 4 x 4 vehicle.
  5. In 1869, the Tenor bell unexpectedly cracked during ringing practice one night, and had to be recast. The replacement was examined by the Abbey organist, and given the go-ahead. However, when it was hauled up and reinstalled, it proved to be out of tune, so it had to be recast a second time!
  6. The Tenor bell bears the inscription: ‘All you of Bathe that hear me sound Thank Lady Hopton’s hundred pound’. What many people don’t know is that Lady Hopton only paid us £20 for the bell herself and her family were made to pay the remaining sum! But it’s her name that’s on the bell not theirs, what a clever lady!
  7. The bells are arranged in descending scale in an anti-clockwise direction and this is unusual, most towers have bells hung in a clockwise direction. This can be a little confusing for visiting bell ringers!