Court of Arches

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The Court of Arches is the ecclesiastical court of appeal for the Ecclesiastical Province of canterbury. From as early as the end of the 13th century it sat in St. Mary of the Arches (de arcubus ), so called for its arched crypt. St. Mary was an exempt deanery within the city of London. This court dealt with the provincial appeals of the archbishop, and presiding over its sessions was the archbishop's official, who later frequently combined that office with the deanship of the Arches. The Court continued after the Reformation and has also been known as the Arches Court. It is still the Provincial Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the corresponding institution for York being the Chancery Court of York. Woodcock has an illuminating discussion of the medieval practice; there is much further material in the Black Books of the Arches (partially printed in D. Wilkins, Concilia, 2, London 1737, and described by Churchill, 2:206).

Bibliography: w. lyndwood, Provinciale (Oxford 1679). j. aycliffe, Parergon juris canonici anglicani (London 1726). w. s. holdsworth, A History of English Law, 13 v. (London 190338; rev. ed. 1956) 3 369. i. j. churchill, Canterbury Administration, 2 v. (New York 1933) 1:422. Canon Law of the Church of England (London 1947) 48, 89, 198. b. l. woodcock, Medieval Ecclesiastical Courts in the Diocese of Canterbury (New York 1952). c. r. chapman, Ecclesiastical Courts, Their Officials and Their Records (Dursley, England 1992).

[r. j. schoeck/eds.]

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Arches, Court of. This was one of the ecclesiastical courts. Before and after the Reformation, appeal from the consistory court of the diocese lay to the court of one of the two archbishops, York or Canterbury. The Court of Arches was the court of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It sat in the church of St Mary-le-Bow in London, acquiring its name from that venue since that church is built over arches. The court still hears appeals relating to clergy discipline in the Church of England as well as disputes over the ordering of churches and the rules relating to burials in church grounds.

Maureen Mulholland

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Arches, Court of. The consistory court of the province of Canterbury, so-called because formerly it met in the E. London church of St Mary-le-Bow (Lat., S. Maria de Arcubus).