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Exploring Property Around 1911

Most family historians want to know more about the location of the properties that their families owned or lived in and the sort of housing they called home. The maps and field books that the Valuation Office compiled between 1910 and 1915 reveal much about residential and other properties in England and Wales. The plans are printed Ordnance Survey maps, with hand-written numbers and boundaries added for each plot. These reference numbers lead researchers to entries in the relevant field book.

The entries in the field book usually contain the names of owner and occupier, tenancy details and a description of the buildings. The most recent sale price and date are sometimes also recorded.

You can find the full document reference for a plan by visiting the Valuation Office map finder. Its index is searchable by place name and, when you have found the assessment number for a property, you can then order the field book. Unfortunately, only the index map references can be obtained online. To consult the detailed maps and the field books themselves, it is necessary to visit the National Archives at  Kew.  

Further information about these sources can be found on The National Archives website, which also explains the possibility of similar records surviving in local collections.

Although records do not survive for all places, the 95,000 field books held at Kew relate to some 9 million properties during a period that is very well-timed for comparison with the 1911 census schedules.


Francis Howcutt
FFHS Archives Liaison

2 February 2013

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