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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 February, 2004, 08:18 GMT
Vicar in court over church revamp
A vicar has appeared before a Church of England court accused of relocating a font, laying a carpet and removing pews without permission of the diocese.

Reverend Nigel di Castiglione, Rector of St Mary and All Saints in Trentham, north Staffordshire, is also alleged to have altered the floor of the church.

Parts of it date back to the 12th Century.

Two church wardens have also been served with a citation order after the renovation work.

Mike Carter and Patricia Roberts were not required to attend a two-hour preliminary Consistory Court hearing in Telford, Shropshire, on Wednesday.

It is important that these matters are aired publicly
Court registrar Niall Blackie
Court registrar Niall Blackie told the hearing that Mr di Castiglione was seeking a Confirmatory Faculty, the ancient judicial body's equivalent of retrospective planning permission.

Summarising the situation to be dealt with by the court, Mr Blackie detailed a lengthy list of allegations.

They include claims of damage to tiles, the removal of furniture and damage to the floor of the Grade II* listed building.

Mr Blackie said: "I stress that not all these matters are admitted and that the facts will have to be explored in these proceedings."

'Conflicting views'

An allegation that pillars beneath the church gallery had been removed was struck out with the agreement of all parties at the hearing.

"It is important that these matters are aired publicly and that parishioners, as well as the parties, feel that proper justice is done in respect of the conflicting views as to what has been done and why," Mr Blackie said.

The civil court, which will eventually be presided over by the Chancellor of the Lichfield Diocese, Crown Court judge John Shand, has the power to issue a Restoration Order.

It could ask the vicar or his church wardens to pay the cost of any such work.

A "directions appointment" will be held in Telford on 4 May and a decisive hearing is likely to take place in Trentham in July.

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