Records relating to the history of houses are kept in a variety of archives. This guide will help you to find out where the information you are looking for might be, and how to go about finding it.
What do I need to know before I start?
Try to find out:
- the approximate age of the house
- the relevant county and registration district
What records can I see online?
Valuation Office map finder
Use this tool to identify and order Valuation Office Survey maps of England and Wales from 1910 to 1915. The maps can be searched by county and Ordnance Survey sheet number to provide an index to the Valuation Office field books (see below).
Census records (1841-1911)
Search by address on the census to find out who was living there. Where an address search is not available, browse the census street indexes on Your Archives (now only available in our web archive) to find the relevant document reference and search the relevant census website with that reference.
Census maps (1871)
Search and download (£) digital versions of the original Registration District maps from the 1871 census on the Cassini Maps website.
What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
Tithe maps and apportionments from 1836
Search Discovery, our catalogue, for tithe maps (IR30) and apportionments (IR 29) by place name below
Valuation Office survey maps and field books (1910-1915)
Consult the Valuation Office field books at The National Archives. Valuation maps (see ‘What records can I see online?’), which provide an index to the field books. Working copies of the Valuation Office survey are often kept in local archives.
To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).
What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
Building plans (mid 19th century onwards)
Many local record offices have collections of building plans from the mid nineteenth century providing evidence of how buildings might have looked when new. Find contact details for archives elsewhere using Find an archive.
Records held locally
The National Archives’ catalogue has details of collections held by over 2500 archives across the UK. Search our catalogue and refine your results using the filters.
What other resources will help me find information?
Search The National Archives’ bookshop to see whether any of the publications below may be available to buy. Alternatively, search The National Archives’ Library to see what is available to consult at Kew.
Tracing the history of your house by Nick Barratt (The National Archives 2006)
Maps for family and local history: the records of the Tithe, Valuation Office Survey and National Farm Surveys of England and Wales, 1836-1943 by Geraldine Beech and Rose Mitchell (The National Archives, 2003)
Did you know?
Investigating the history of your house can be a fascinating project. Research splits into two main areas: the ownership and occupation of your property; and its building and architectural history. The same sources can often be useful for both strands.
The best place to start researching the history of a house, its occupants and the surrounding area is the relevant local archive. Find contact details for local archives using Find an archive.
Local archives can hold various relevant resources including books, maps, title deeds, electoral registers and family and estate papers.
Between 1910 and 1915 the Valuation Office carried out a survey to determine the value of land for tax purposes. The property field books from the survey contain the names of property owners and occupiers, details of tenancy and the value and area covered by the property. They also regularly show the number of rooms and how the rooms were used.
Title deeds can help you trace the owners and occupiers of your house. If the title deeds to your house are not in your possession, they may be with your solicitor or mortgage company.
Older deeds may not have survived. The Law of Property Act 1925 limited the need for evidence of title to 30 years. Older deeds may however have survived in a repository as part of a deposited solicitor’s collection or collection of family and estate papers.