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Clare, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 35054
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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In 1916 my family conveyed the tenure of a church property

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In 1916 my family conveyed the tenure of a church property (a parish church) that my family owned and built to the Church of England. The deed of conveyance stated that once the Church of England ceased using the parish church as a church that it should be returned to the surviving family. The Church of England have deconsecrated the church, ripped out all the pews, screens and roods and boarded it up. It is not longer used as a church. I am the sole surviving member of my family.The solicitors for the Diocese have sent a draft conveying the church to me but have not acted to complete the conveyance and are now muttering about making me pay for indemnity insurance for the trustees of the church who they refused to identify before they will do so.Am I correct that:1. From the moment the Parish Church ceased being used as a church by the Church of England (the Diocese) that, the tenure conveyed to it by the my family in 1914 ceased.
2. Following the cession of the tenure conveyed in 1914, the Church should automatically have reverted to the successors of the deed of conveyance to whom it was bequeathed, to wit, myself, as the sole surviving descendent.
3. The Diocese’s locus standi ceased at the time the Church was deconsecrated. The Diocese legal authority over the future of the Church became non-existent and any trustees of the Church became redundant at that time
4. I do not require the permission of the Diocese to assume ownership of the Church; it is mine by right.
5. It would be incumbent on the Diocese to take legal action to prevent me from demolishing the Church, building houses offices or turning the Church into the best little whore house in town if I chose (although in the latter case the local constabulary may seek to restrain me! In fact I want to turn it into a community centre for the locals).
6. Should I endeavour to register the Church in my name at the Land Registry? Would that would force the hand of the Diocese and, amongst other things, force their hand in disclosing the identities of the Trustees in whose name such action would require to be taken and whose identities they have so far refused to disclose.
7. Would Land Registry registration be a much simpler process to prove I am the owner of the Church as the deed of conveyance 1914 states and proof of my genealogy is not disputed?
Thank you for your help.Henry Harington

Thank you for your question

My name is Clare

I shall do my best to help you but I need some further information first

For clarity the Diocese are in fact taking acting to transfer the ownership of the Land back to you by way of a Conveyance/TR1.

They are asking for Indemnity Insurance regarding your standing as the only remaining family member

Is that correct?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Good morning Clare, Thank you for your reply. I had to check a couple of things but in answer to your questions;1. Yes it is a TR1Conveyance2. The Diocese required documentary evidence be produced confirming that I am indeed the successor to the 1914 deed of conveyance. This was provided and satisfied the Diocese until they demanded evidence from remaining embers of the family that they, individually and collectively, had no right or intention, to stake a claim under the conditions of the 1914 conveyance. All the remaining members of the family confirmed this, in writing to the Diocese so it should have ceased to be an issue.The Diocese also suggested that the trustees required indemnity insurance, to be paid for by me, against the possibility that I would bring charges against them. (I think they feared action for the (probably illegal) removal by the Church of artifacts (roods, screens, pews etc.) and the damage inflicted in that exercise, including the heating system installed in recent years by the parishioners and paid for by the parishioners.Regards,Henry Harington

What is your objection to paying this fee?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If it is unavoidable I will pay the indemnity. That is not the issue. As it is they have not specified clearly what the indemnity they may or may not require is. The indemnity is a distractionI have agreed to the deed of conveyance they submitted to me but they are dragging their feet. My core question is in my first message to you viz Can I circumvent the palava of the Diocese messing me around by simply registering the church my name? I can prove ownership, I can prove genealogy is there anything else the Land Registry would require to register the property in my name?Regards.

No I am afraid that to successfully transfer the ownership into your name you will need the TR1 signed by the representative of the diocese

There is no other way around this I am afraid, the Land Registry cannot take any action based on the genealogy evidence and the original Grant.

Whilst they certainly do not appear to be prioritising the return of the property to you they are taking the appropriate steps to deal with the matter

Please ask if you need further details

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.Just to be absolutely clear: although the property is mine by unquestionable right and inheritance, the Diocese have to sign a form saying that the property belongs to me despite their interest in the property having lapsed? Can I take them to court to oblige them to sign? Is the Diocese the highest authority in property matters in the Church of England and is there anyway I can get a signature from someone else in the CofE?Thank you

The property does indeed revert to you but to Register the change you will need the paperwork to be signed by the Diocese.

Each Diocese is autonomous and you will need the appropriate Diocese to sign the Transfer.

Since they are already processing the Transfer there is no court action that you can take unless matters simply drag on

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