The Court of Arches is the court of appeal of the Archbishop of Canterbury and dates back to the 13th century. With the exception of a dozen volumes, the very extensive archive dates from 1660. In its heyday the court exercised an extensive jurisdiction over marriage, probate and testamentary disputes, defamation, church property (rates, tithes, fabric of churches), and morals of the clergy and laity.
The collection includes over 2000 process books, transcripts of proceedings in the lower court sent up on appeal, and exhibits, including mediaeval title deeds (Fineshade cartulary), court books, probate accounts, churchwardens' accounts, rate books etc.
Further information is available in:
Houston, J. (ed.) Index of Cases in the Records of the Court of Arches at Lambeth Palace Library 1660-1913, (Index Library, vol. 85, 1972).
Several series of Court of Arches records have been published in microformat by Chadwyck-Healey Ltd., The Quorum, Barnwell Road, Cambridge, CB5 8SW.
For information on parallel series of records for the Province of York courts see: www.york.ac.uk/library/borthwick/projects-exhibitions/church-court-records/cause-papers