England Valuation Office Records (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Land and Property Records including Manorial Documents and Maps  by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Valuation Office Records 1910-1914[edit | edit source]

(Lloyd George’s Domesday)[edit | edit source]

The inequity of land ownership in Edwardian Britain was tackled by the Liberal government as one step in the battle against poverty and social injustice. The valuation of all properties in England and Wales under Chancellor of the Exchequer Lloyd George’s Finance Act (1909-1910) was done to form a base datum line for a new tax called increment value duty. When a property was sold after this time then the increase in value from that of 30 April 1909 was taxed if it was attributable to the spending of public money. No duty was payable on home improvements paid for by the owner; however if the increase in value was due to improved roads or pavements (sidewalks), or to better public services nearby then the duty had to be paid upon the difference. Duty of 20% was payable when the property was sold, transferred or leased when its owner died, but there were several exemptions. Increment Value Duty was repealed by the 1920 Finance Act after the problems of the Great War and many struggles with the landowners inhabiting the House of Lords.

It is clear that the initial valuation exercise (1909-1915) created a series of records which provide a huge amount of information about the population prior to World War I. There are two sets of records of interest:

  • Working plans and Valuation Books (colloquially known as Domesday Books) which were the working documents used by the valuers and are at county archives, except for the cities of London and Westminster which are at TNA in IR91.
  • The printed results are at TNA and comprise the 95,000 Field Books in series IR58, and a special series of Ordnance Survey maps called the Record Plans, which have to be used together with them.

The Valuation Office used the 25" OS maps as a base, dividing the country into 118 valuation districts, subdivided into sub-districts and giving each unit of property in them an assessment number, usually called the hereditament number. One has to first view the plans to find these three items, then find them in the field books.

Field Books[edit | edit source]

The field books always contain:

  • Names and addresses of owner and occupier.
  • Owner’s interest (freehold, copyhold etc.).
  • Tenancy details (term and rent).
  • Area of property.

In addition there may also be:

  • Date of erection of buildings including houses and outbuildings.
  • Description of construction materials used.
  • Number and uses of rooms.
  • State of repair.
  • Water supply and sanitary facilities.
  • Liability for rates, insurance and repairs.
  • Comments on state of cultivation, drainage and land use are common for farms.
  • Date(s) of previous sale(s).
  • A sketch plan of the property.

The figures for the valuation normally include the market value of the property with buildings, trees and plants, and of the land itself. They were usually copies of the rate books and thus can supplement deficient series of them. The record plans have hand-drawn boundaries and numbers for the hereditaments and there are parish, place and street indexes to them. The descriptions enable one to really understand what life was like in the home and surroundings, for example some descriptions of the buildings mentioned by Foot (Maps for Family History, 1994), and Short (The Lloyd George Finance Act Material #36 in Short Guides to Records edited by Kathryn M. Thompson , 1997) are shown here.

Valuation Office Records
[edit | edit source]

Chart: Valuation Office Records

A Farm in East Sussex

Farmhouse: A very old fashioned part built of stone and part of brick, weather-tile and tile. Well built.
Accommodation: Porch, ground floor—kitchen, small sitting room, large front room (very bad repair), pantry, scullery and cellar underground.
1st floor: Landing, 1 front bed all oak paneled, 4 bedrooms.
Top: 2 attics (no use for bedrooms), good repair.
2 Cottages: A pair of semi-detached cottages well built of brick, stucco and tile.
Accommodation of each: Living room and washhouse and 3 bedrooms. Fair repair.

An Inn in Surrey
Detached brick and slated country inn.
Ground floor. Tap room bar, parlour (kitchen living room) and general shop, cellar (beer only on draught), scullery and washhouse. Well water only, earth closet in garden, public urinal.
Above: 5 bedrooms in indifferent repair.
At rear: 2 old cottages in cement, brick, sandstone and tile, each containing a room and a scullery on the ground floor and 2 rooms over. One also has a washhouse and they are let @ 3/- and 2/9 each respectively. There are 2 earth closets in the garden and an old wood shed.
The public house has a good garden with a timber built workshop in same

Neither the plans nor the field books appear to be available on film outside England and Wales yet, which is a pity as this is the most comprehensive set of property records ever compiled in the United Kingdom. The genealogist can profitably use the valuation records in conjunction with contemporary trade directories and censuses, as well as with the 1930s rate re-evaluation and the 1941-1943 National Farm Survey.

A brief description of the holdings of TNA are given in their research guide D46, Park is a useful summary and Short ( The Lloyd George Finance Act Material #36 in Short Guides to Records edited by Kathryn M. Thompson, 1997) provides a concise description and a longer history and evaluation in his 1989 paper. Foot has the nitty-gritty of how to use the plans and field books at TNA, as well as a great set of illustrations of original documents, both rural and urban. Bear in mind that it will be 2012 before the 1911 census is released!


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course English: Land and Property Records including Manorial Documents and Maps offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.