Photograph of fishermen's cottages at Hallsands, Devon (Catalogue reference: BT297/579)

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 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. Search ARCHON to find the contact details of a local archive.

    • Records held locally

      Search the Access to Archives (A2A) and National Register of Archives (NRA) databases to find records held in local archives.

  • What other resources will help me find information?

    • Books

      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. Search ARCHON for contact details of your local archives.

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