…So there we were, lifting up this pulpit, when lo and behold underneath pops out this envelope. The Frimley Parish Church Time Capsule. Inside was a small packet of unused stamps, the Parish Magazine and a legal document; all dated from 1951. This was the year that the church took the momentous decision to lower their old pulpit by 22 inches. Being C of E this wasn’t simply a case of the vicar borrowing a saw. Instead there was a Concistorial Court Case (and these can have proper lawyers at full rate) to debate and ratify the whole affair complete with long incomprehensible parchment.
In fairness, I’m sure this system is to protect against rogue priests chopping down the bell tower, but it did strike me as rather a lot of work to do a simple carpentry job. To give you some of the flavour of how the ‘Faculty’ is worded: 'HENRY’ (yes, as in Henry VIII) 'by divine permission Bishop of Guildford to all Christian people to whom these Presents shall come or whom they shall or may in anywise concern and more especially to the Parishioners and Inhabitants of the Parish of FRIMLEY…’
At this point, things start to get really unreadable. To the best of my knowledge, these Faculties or licenses are done in the same way to this day. Quite a tricky business if all you want to do is paint a door, or whatever.