Category Archives: Bradford

You too can own a half-price church courtesy of St Stephen the Great

Phil Groom writes:

LET’S FACE IT, with Phil Brewer and Mark Brewer off his back, what use does St Stephen the Great have for a church these days? He can’t even let it out as a B&B — sorry, I mean use it as “hospitality units for the Charity” — so it’s yours, half-price for Christmas: was £250,000; now £125,000, put up for sale, I’m reliably informed, “By Order of P Gotham, Interim Manager, St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust”:

Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church, Bradford: Attractive well maintained grade 2 Listed church building. Suitable for a variety of community/commercial uses - subject to consents. PRICE NOW REDUCED FROM £250,000 TO £125,000!

Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church, Bradford: Attractive well maintained grade 2 Listed church building. Suitable for a variety of community/commercial uses - subject to consents. PRICE NOW REDUCED FROM £250,000 TO £125,000!

Property Search Results from sharmawilliamson.co.uk/property_search.php: type ‘church’ in the search box. Also advertised as ‘Offers Invited’:

Mary Magdalene Church, Bradford: Offers Invited
Mary Magdalene Church, Bradford: Offers Invited

This is one of at least two ‘redundant’ churches that were handed over to the Brewer brothers by the Church of England, the other being St Osmund’s in Poole, Dorset, renamed St Stephen the Great by the Brewers in 2007 then abandoned by the priest and congregation back in 2008. According to the Orthodox Wiki, which may or may not be a reliable source of information, between them the two properties are “valued in excess of £12,000,000”. Whatever the true value and whatever the outcome of this particular sale, one can only hope that the proceeds will go to those ripped off  by the Brewers — sorry, I mean those who’ve benefited from Phil Brewer’s “Major Business Accomplishments”, as set out by him for Halloween this year:

Screenshot: philbrewer.com

philbrewer.com: Trick or Treat?

Major Business Accomplishments
President of an international Orthodox Christian charity, Churches & hospitality units, sales exceeding £4 Million ($8 Million) annually.

  • 24 retail bookshops, 180+ employees located throughout the United Kingdom.
  • In this capacity, responsibilities included hiring, coaching and training retail store managers.
  • Developed flat world approach to management structure for flexibility and cost savings.
  • Implemented vibrant web presence.
  • Overseeing purchasing, suppliers, manufacturers.
  • Acquired redundant Churches from the Church of England. Responsible for maintaining Churches and bringing them back to use as Christian Churches for the Orthodox Church.
  • Established hospitality units for the Charity.

Flat world approach indeed. One can only hope that anyone thinking of signing up for the services of Flintdale Medical, one of Phil Brewer’s current projects, does a little research before parting with any cash…

Exeter: The Incomplete Story (Part 4)

Phil Groom writes:

“Part 4?” you ask. Yes: Part 3 wasn’t labelled as such: it appeared earlier this week as Welcome to GemStar Jewellery and Gifts, Exeter. Since then SPCK have kindly furnished me with a copy of the Land Registry documentation pertaining to the transfer of properties to St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust (SSGCT).

The covenant contained in that document, and cited in my letter to Exeter’s Planning Services Dept (sent today, copied in full below) applies specifically to Bradford, Canterbury, Exeter, Truro and York.

I’d like to emphasise at this point — as stated in my letter — that I know of no cause for concern about the new tenants, GemStar, as a company: on the contrary, their presence is no doubt an asset to Exeter and I wish them every success. Unfortunately, like so many others caught up in this mess, they may find themselves unwitting victims of the Brewers’ innovative business practices; and in that, they have my sympathy.

Full details of the Planning Application along with drawings and other documents are available on the Exeter City Council Planning Pages:

The deadline for comments or objections is 21 days from 12/12/2008, the date of the Planning Application Notice as displayed in the shop window.

From: Phil Groom
Subject: Comments re. Planning Application 08/2291/07
Date: 19 December 2008
To: Rachael Durbin, Exeter City Council, Planning Services Dept    

Dear Ms Durbin,

I wish to comment on Planning Application 08/2291/07 re. the proposed “alterations to existing fascias to provide non-illuminated hand painted lettering on south east and south west elevations, hand painted vertical lettering on south corner of building and projecting sign on south west elevation”.

Having studied the proposed signage, I believe that its installation would be in further direct breach of the seven year covenant pertaining to the use of the property at 1-2 Catherine Street which restricts such use to Christian bookselling. I say “further direct breach” because the current usage of the shop as a jewellery store is also, unfortunately, in breach of that restrictive covenant, which states:

The Transferee hereby covenants with the Transferor that for a period of seven years from the date hereof the Transferee will use the Properties hereby transferred as bookshops which will serve a broad Christian tradition and sell books, bibles, church and parish stationery and resources, music, software, cards, gifts and other associated products which adequately reflect the range of theological views held within the broad Christian church including those of the Church of england, the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist and Baptist churches as well as the Orthodox Church and will not use or permit the property to be used for any other purpose.

That citation is taken directly from the Land Registry form TP3, “Transfer of portfolio of titles”, certified copy dated 12/01/07, (copy available on request: please ask) whereby a transfer with “limited title guarantee” took place between the former occupants, the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) and John Mark Brewer, Sandra Kay Brewer and Karen Ellen Brewer (the Brewers) who were “to hold the Property as Trustees of the St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust” (SSGCT).

Whether the Brewers had the right to dispose of the property is another matter (restrictions on disposition are imposed by Section 36 of the Charities Act 1993, and I am referring this matter separately to the Charity Commission) but even if they did have such right, the restrictive covenant remains in place and is binding upon any subsequent owners, and is in fact twice referred to in the current Land Registry files relating to this property, which also note that a copy of the covenant is filed:

Under “B: Proprietorship Register”, part 3:

(31.10.2008 ) A Transfer to a former proprietor contains a covenant to observe and perform the covenants referred to in the Charges Register and of indemnity in respect thereof.

and under “C: Charges Register”, part 1:

(06.05.2008 ) A Transfer of the land in this title and other land dated 29 November 2006 made between (1) The Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge and (2) John Mark Brewer and Others contains restrictive covenants.

Please note that I have no concerns whatsoever about the new tenants, GemStar, as a company: on the contrary, their presence is no doubt an asset to Exeter and I wish them every success. I fear, however, that they may find themselves unwitting victims of the Brewers’ innovative business practices.

My concerns relate to the use of these particular premises for purposes contrary to an established covenant and, specifically with reference to this planning application, by proposed signage that fails to promote the covenanted usage during the seven year period throughout which the covenant applies. Please do not hesitate to ask if you require any further information: this issue is but one small part of a much more extensive and ongoing scrutiny of the Brewers and their business dealings.

Please also note that a copy of this letter will be posted on the ‘SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info’ blog.

I thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to receiving your response soon.

Yours faithfully,

Phil Groom

Phil Groom
SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info
https://spckssg.wordpress.com