Henning v Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal
Judgment Date10 July 1962
Judgment citation (vLex)[1962] EWCA Civ J0710-2
Date10 July 1962

[1962] EWCA Civ J0710-2

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

From the Lands Tribunal


The Master of The Rolls (Lord Denning)

Lord Justice Donovan and

Lord Justice Pearson

W. S. Henning (Valuation Officer
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

MR PTRICK BROWNE, Q, C. and MR RAYMOND PHILLIPS (instructed by the Solicitor of Inland Revenue) appeared as Counsel for the Appellant.

MR HUGH FOREES and Miss SHEILA CAMERON (instructed by Messre Devonshire & co.) appeared as Counsel for the Respondents.


This case concerns the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints which has been built at God stone in Surrey, and the question is whether it is exempt or not from rating. The exemption depends on the provisions of Section 7 of the Rating and Valuation ( miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1955, and the Temple Is exempt if it comes within sub-section (2)(a): "Places of public religious worship which belong to the Church of England or to the Church in Wales or which are for the time being certified as required by law as places of religious worship". This temple is certified within the last condition. It is certified within the 1855 Act as a place of religious worship. But that does not conclude the matter. The governing words are the opening words: Is it a place of public religious worship?


In the British Isles the Mormon Church has some 16,000 members organised in local branches with 75 local chapels. Each of those chapels has a certificate of registration under the 1855 Act, and Is a place of public religious worship. But they are not in question in this case. The question here is the Temple. This Temple is a very special building in the Mormon Church. It is the first in Great Britain, it is the second in Europe and the third in the British Commonwealth. It is a very special place, which you will appreciate when you know that the places of worship of the Mormons are divided broadly into two groups: the chapels, which are open to all members of the public of any denomination, and the Temples such as this. The Temples are not open to the public, nor even to all Mormons, but only to Mormons of good standing. I read now from the agreed statement of facts: "A Mormon of good standing is one whose spiritual and secular qualities entitle him, in the view of a local Bishop, to a 'Recommend' to a President, who, if in turn satisfied that the holder is entitled by his personal qualities to the appellation of 'Mormon of good standing', endorses the 'Recommend'. Until that endorsement is appended the recipient has no right to enter the Temple". We were shown forms of the Temple Recommend. They have to be made out with particulars of the applicant. The Bishop and the Branch Presidents are expected carefully to interview applicants and exercise an honest and fair judgment as to their worthiness. If they are re-commended and get what I may call the "entree" into the Temple, then they may enter but not otherwise. The ceremonies in the Temple are different from those in the chapels. The ceremonies in the Temple are known to the Mormons as ordinances. They include baptism, marriage, elevation in the priesthood and other sacraments; whereas the ceremonies performed in Mormon chapels include morning and evening services and services of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which, though differing in detail, are the equivalent of similar services performed in the churches of other Christian denominations. Speaking broadly, the Temple seems to be the sanctuary, the holy place, where those Mormons of good standing, qualified in the way I have said, are admitted. We were given figures of the numbers who have attended the Temple, called the London Temple, at Godstone, and about 5,000 attend the ceremonies at the Temple at Godstone each year. Most come from the British Isles, including Scotland and Ireland, but some come from Norway. But no one is allowed into the Temple unless he has been recommended In the way that I have mentioned.


Is the Temple a place of public religious worship? The Lands Tribunal held that it was. It drew an analogy with the Church of England. The parish churches of England are clearly places of public religious worship. And the Lands Tribunal were impressed by the fact that in an ordinary parish Church there is a legal right in the incumbent to exclude people whoare not parishioners. They were Impressed by the rubric of the Holy Communion which enables the curate to exclude anyone who is "an open and notorious evil liver or have done any wrong to his neighbours by word or deed". The Lands Tribunal thought there was a sufficient parallel in those exclusions to hold that just as a parish church was a place of public religious worship, so also was this Temple at Godstone. I do not agree with that reasoning of the Lands Tribunal, and Mr Forbes did not seek to support it before us. We have hero to consider, not legal rights of entry, but the position in point of practice: and In point of practice, the parish churches of England are open to everyone and anyone who chooses to come and is ready to be well behaved; whereas in this Temple there Is an exclusion of everyone who does not belong to the specially qualified class.


In this Court Mr. Forbes put the argument on different lines. He said that the word "public" in an Act dealing with religious worship has a special meaning in point of law. He referred us to Barnes v. Shore and Freeland v. Neale in Robortson's Ecclesiastical Reports and to a case before the Dean of Arches, ( Nesbitt v. Wallace 1901 Probate, p. 354) which have considered the question: what is a reading in public of the Book of Common Prayer? The vicar of an English parish has the solo right to say who shall or shall not read the Book of Common Prayer in public within his parish; and it has been held that a public reading is any reading which comprises persons outside the immediate household of the family. In some of those cases strangers were invited in on occasions and heard the reading. It was held to be a public reading. Mr. Forbes has sought to apply those cases hero. I cannot go with this argument. It seems to me those Acts and those cases were dealing with a subject matter far removed from this They were also intuit


We arc concerned with the moaning of "places of public religious worship" in this rating Act. "Public" is used as distinct from "private". It is a matter essentially of fact. In this case it seems to mo that the restrictions on entry into the Temple are such that it is not a place of public religious worship. It is a sanctuary of a private nature. This appears from the opening words of one of the booklets which were put before the Court. Speaking of Temples, it says: "There are ten of these buildings in use at the present time. They are not to be confused with the regular church meeting houses where public worship Is conducted and of which there are nearly two thousand owned and maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because of the sacred nature of the work for which temples are dedicated, and because a thorough acquaintance with the doctrines and practices of the Church is necessary to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
9 cases
  • Gallagher v Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • 30 July 2008
    ...difficulty for the appellants is that this very point was decided more than 40 years ago by this House in Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v Henning (Valuation Officer) [1964] AC 420. The case concerned the Mormon Temple at Godstone and the question was whether it was exempt from......
  • Attorney General v British Broadcasting Corporation ; Same v Hat Trick Productions Ltd
    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • 12 June 1996
  • Attorney General v British Broadcasting Corporation
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 11 April 1979
    ...Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). A Mormon temple was held not to qualify for relief but their chapels did, see Henning's case (1962) 1 Weekly Law Reports 1091, (1964) Appeal Cases 420. 5 On the 26th September, 1976 the B.B.C. showed a television broadcast entitled "Anno Domini-Breth......
  • Broxtowe Borough Council v Birch
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 6 December 1982
    ...disposed persons" test. It is derived from the speech of Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest in the Mormon Temple case, Henninq v. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, (1964) Appeal Cases 420, at p.435, where he said, "I consider that there is a distinction between private or dome......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT