The Library holds extensive archives and not all information on the collections appears in the online catalogue. Users may wish to be aware of this when searching for relevant sources.
The significant series not yet featuring in the online catalogue are listed below. You may come across references to these records, for instance in the Related Material field of other catalogue records, or annotated on other archival material. If you do not have a reference to a particular file, but believe the series below may be relevant to your research, you can contact us with an enquiry.
The ‘five figure’ files
This is the central file series of the Ecclesiastical and subsequently Church Commissioners, and dates from the 1830s onwards. It runs to around 120,000 files although only a small proportion currently feature in the catalogue. The catalogue record for the series can be viewed here. Topics covered include:
- Management of Church estates, both agricultural and urban.
- Administration, including changes in church structure: for example creation and amalgamation of benefices.
The files have numerical references between 1 and 100,000 (although not all the files have survived) sometimes prefixed F, FN, or File Number. The reference in the current archive catalogue will be ECE/7/1/… (followed by up to 5 digits).
These files may be identifiable either in the Related Material field of other catalogue records, or by staff who can access the original card index. The vast majority of the files were indexed on the basis of the benefice to which they related, therefore identifying files relevant to a particular geographical area is easier than searching for specific topics.
A large collection documenting property holdings of the central Church, numbered with six figure references, sometimes prefixed D…
Note that most of the medieval and early modern deeds from this series have been transferred to local record offices, and other deeds have been handed away on sale of the property.
Deeds can be requested if researchers have found a reference in the Related Material field of other catalogue records, or in other physical records. Consulting maps within our archive (often to be found in the series ECE/11…) is frequently a good starting point in searching for deeds: property owned by the Ecclesiastical or Church Commissioners would often be shaded onto the maps and the deed numbers written on the relevant parcels of land.
CARE and ABRC file series
Both these series are an excellent resource for architectural history, conservators and for anybody researching the material culture of church buildings, fixtures and fittings. Only an internal finding aid exists for these archives, so please consult staff for further information.
- CARE files: produced by the Cathedrals and Church Buildings Department, and its predecessors, to assist the Council for the Care of Churches in advising dioceses on the care of church fabric and fittings. It covers both current and closed churches, as well as Cathedrals. The files often have separate parts dedicated to monuments, bells, the organ etc.
- ABRC files: produced by the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches, which was established to provide independent advice to the Church Commissioners on heritage matters relating to fabric, fixtures and fittings of closing churches. The series dates from the mid C20th onwards.
Redundant Churches files
These records were produced by Church Commissioners’ committee that dealt with issues relating to pastoral care in the case of closing churches. Initially this was the responsibility of the Commissioners’ Administrative Committee (1948-64), later the Pastoral Committee (1964-68) and subsequently the work fell to the Redundant Churches Committee.
Bishops’ residences (B/H series)
Created by the Bishoprics Department, these files relate to the department’s responsibility for supervision of all aspects of the construction, maintenance and renovation of the bishops’ official episcopal residences, also known as See Houses. The series was created in the mid C20th and is awaiting cataloguing.