'New Domesday' land valuation records, 1909-15

The Society digital resource

The Survey

The Liberal Government’s 1909 Finance Act introduced a new Land Tax, which was intended to create a tax liability for all landowners, based on the increase in the value of land held. This involved a vast survey covering every property, to provide a baseline value for the land, after the value of buildings and timber, etc had been deducted. Work continued until 1915, though the tax was never introduced, but all the survey work was retained, providing a valuable resource for historians. A discussion of the process with examples of the records, by Dr Michael Winstanley, can be found in Journal 40.

The Digital Resource

We have compiled a digital resource of images for the area covered by the Society, plus limited material for Cockermouth. This now forms a large digital resource which can be used – though not directly online - for a variety of purposes, from just finding out about a property at the time, to more general historical studies covering a larger area or, for example, changes over time since the previous survey for the Tithe Apportionment in the 1840s.

The Records

There are three main records. Firstly the Valuation Registers or registers, or the ‘New Domesday Books’, which contain a listing of all properties arranged by 1910 Civil Parish, giving owners and primary tenants, together with acreages and valuations. Each register has a set of property reference numbers starting from 1. For each property there is an original survey and valuation in the Field Books, with a four-page sequence for each in these specially printed books. Thirdly, there are the valuation plans, which are simply the 25 inch sheets of the second series of ordnance survey maps, with the land area divided up into the properties which are surveyed in the books and listed in the registers. These plans are based on one set of maps, not separate maps for each civil parish. Each property is marked with a property reference number, which, with the civil parish, provides the key to the other records.

Coverage of the Digital Resource

The survey was based on the civil parishes at the time, not the C of E parishes, and some of these were later combined, or abolished in 1934. We have the full surviving records for: Blindbothel, Brackenthwaite, Buttermere, Eaglesfield, Embleton, Lorton, Loweswater, Mosser Setmurthy, Whinfell and Wythop. We do not have the Field Books for Cockermouth (except a few donated by Michael Winstanley), Dean and Greysouthen.

The detailed information on coverage is tabled here, and this includes a links to those parish boundaries shown on six-inch OS maps, on this site. (These are of the 1860s townships, which are essentially the same as the 1900 civil parishes, apart from changes to divided parishes made in the 1880s.)

Accessing the Resource

The digital resource is held by Derek Denman on computer, who will supply images for a property of interest by email. Please find contact details here, and note that there is not, at present, a 'copy and post' option. We expect that the first use will be for people who wish to have information on a particular property at the time of the survey. Usually this will produce four images, one of the valuation plan, one of the page in the register, and two double-page images of the field book, plus references. There are no copyright restrictions on any of these records.

To identify a property for which you would like information, it is possible just to give an address or postcode, but better to locate it on a map. If you are unsure of the 1900 civil parish, or wish to see the coverage of the of the valuation plans we hold, then you can see this on a key to the OS maps here.