Court Of Arches, one of the ten English ecclesiastical courts, so called because its sittings were formerly held in the church of St. Mary-le-Bow (Sancta Maria de Arcubus)in London, whence they were in 1567 transferred to the hall of the doctors' commons. This court has original jurisdiction in most ecclesiastical causes arising in 13 parishes in London, which form a deanery. The presiding officer, called the dean of the arches, is also the deputy of the archbishop of Canterbury, so that the court of arches has an appellate jurisdiction in all ecclesiastical causes arising out of the diocese of York. Formerly the jurisdiction of this court was very extensive, especially in matrimonial and testamentary matters; but these have within a few years been transferred from the ecclesiastical courts to the crown, and divorces to the divorce court. The practitioners in the ecclesiastical court are styled doctors, advocates, and proctors, and must before admission to practice obtain the fiat of the archbishop, and then be duly admitted by the dean of the arches.
This court has now but little business to do; but the dean, as president of the college of doctors of law, is usually constituted principal judge in admiralty.