Protection against Chancel Repair Liability

Chancel repair liability can lead to the owners of property having to make a very substantial financial payment to the local parish Church. 

What is Chancel Repair liability?

This obligation originated in medieval times.  It attaches to land that was previously owned by the Church and used to fund the local rector/Church.  The financial/legal obligation has passed on when the land has subsequently been sold and it still affects certain properties. 

Basically, any property located within the boundaries of a Parish where such a liability exists could be “caught”.  The penalty is financial in that it involves having to pay for the upkeep and repair of the chancel of the local mediaeval parish church.

There was a famous case, quite recently (Aston Cantlow -v- Wallbank) where the Church sought payment from the owners of the rectorial land which was part of a property called Glebe Farm, to repair the chancel of the local mediaeval Church.  The owners of the rectorial land (known as lay rectors) refused to pay and what was originally a £6,000.00 bill increased to £96,000.00 as the structure slowly disintegrated.  Needless to say, the church won. 

Protection available against chancel repair liability

The risk of your property being affected is low and our normal approach is to take out insurance on a block policy against the slim possibility of a claim – rather than carrying out the Search itself.  The problem with a normal Search result is that it is limited in value – only telling you whether the property is within an area where there might possibly be a liability. 

On completion we will include your property on the Block Chancel Repair Liability Indemnity Policy which the firm holds with Stewart Title Limited.  This will protect you against a potential “Chancel Repair” obligation to the local Parish Church.  The premium for this policy is only £7 plus VAT.


If you need are in the process of purchasing a property or looking to buy and need advice, contact our experienced and friendly residential conveyancing team on 01904 624903 and they will be happy to help.

Rachel Butterfield