Royal charter costs holy penny

Ownership of a medieval charter has cost the keepers of Windsor Castle’s historic chapel the right to avoid charging VAT on entry fees.

The dean and canons of the 15th-century St George’s Chapel, home of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, said at an appeal they should not pay VAT because the chapel was a museum, but they lost after failing to prove they ran the chapel on a voluntary basis.

Under the charter, collection of the entry payments – which totalled almost #824,000 in 1997 – was considered to be part of their remunerated job and not a voluntary function.

Entry payments to the chapel are taken by Royal Collection Enterprises at the main entrance to the castle.

Nicholas Paines QC, acting on behalf of Customs & Excise, said the tribunal case was fought over three issues, proof that the chapel was a museum, whether it was run on a voluntary basis and whether profits were spent on the chapel.

Paines said: ‘They won the first, but failed at the others.’

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