When Elaine Hession opened the letter she almost passed out and her partner Jonathan Hill turned "as white as a ghost". Last month the couple received a notice from the Land Registry informing them their local church had registered its right to make them contribute to the cost of repairs.
Under chancel repair liability, homeowners living within the parishes of churches built before 1536 can be held liable for costs. The law dates back to the time of Henry VIII and, although actual claims are rare, in 2009 Adrian and Gail Wallbank from Warwickshire sold their home after losing an 18-year legal case and being left with costs of £250,000.
Mr Hill, a builder, said he had spent about £100,000 renovating the home he inherited from his father Frank in Stottesdon, Shropshire, but he now fears it has been devalued because of the registration made by the local parochial church council (PCC).
...Monasteries often acquired this land together with the responsibility for paying for the repair of the chancel. When Henry Vlll sold the monasteries' land, the liability to pay for the repair of the chancel remained with the land sold.
"It is medieval madness," said the 41-year-old, whose father is buried on the land and "loved the property".
Ms Hession said she could not believe what she was reading when the notice arrived. "I had a vague notion of chancel repair liability but we were astounded to receive it," she said...
...Liability for chancel repair does not necessarily show on the title deeds of a house and solicitors often advise people to take out insurance against potential liability claims with premiums costing from about £50.