1910 Valuation Office ‘Domesday’ Survey, 1910-1915
The 1910 Finance Act allowed for various duties to be levied on land, including an ‘Increment Value Duty’, which would be levied on any increase in the value of land above the level it stood as at 30 April 1909. Property less than 50 acres and worth less than £75 per acre was to be exempt, as was farming land, which was not valued at more than its agricultural market value.
Despite these exemptions, it was still considered useful to survey and value all property and land, making the 1910 valuation survey an informative source for local and community historians. The extensive reach of the survey and the levies proved unpopular and the process was interrupted by the advent of World War I. Although the valuation was completed in 1915, the levy was repealed by the 1920 Finance Act.
The maps and field books used for the survey are held today at the National Archives, Kew. Each property shown on the maps is given a hereditament number, which cross-references with the field books. The information provided in the field books includes the full address and description of the property (sometimes with a plan), name of the owner and occupier, date of construction and any previous sales, the valuation and a schedule of neighbouring land owned. The survey often included public or commercial buildings which may have since been converted into a domestic property. The details of information varies considerably, and whilst farms and historic buildings were often surveyed in great detail, the level of information provided dwindled as time passed to speed up the process.
A second set of books were created, known as the Valuation or ‘Domesday Books’. These contain the initial information from the beginning of the survey, before the more detailed field books were created. They contain very basic information about the property and sometimes the ownership, but lack any physical descriptions and do not contain the final assessable site values. These Valuation Books were also originally held at the National Archives but were later sent off to local Record Offices as the field books contain fuller information.
Staffordshire Record Office holds the Valuation Books for the current administrative county, divided into the three taxation divisions of Lichfield, Stoke on Trent and Stafford. Staffordshire Record Office also houses some Ordnance Survey sheets that were used by the local taxation office. Some of these sheets contain hereditament numbers and other annotations, but these are not necessarily contemporary with the 1910 survey and many of the maps are blank. As the local holdings are infrequent, researchers would be advised to consult the official maps held at the National Archives.