Tracing the History of Houses and Land


Article Summary

The 21st century has seen an explosion in information services, and our government have expressed their ambition to make more information available to consumers and businesses. In the spirit of this there are now many different sources to obtain historical information about houses and land. This article examines some of these sources and introduces a new House and Land History Search.


Records of Past and Present Ownerships

The 21st century has seen an explosion in information services, and our government have expressed their ambition to make more information available to consumers and businesses. In the spirit of this there are now many different sources to obtain historical information about houses and land. This article examines some of these sources and introduces a new House and Land History Search.


Land Registry Documents

The following documents held by the Land Registry provide recent history for many registered properties:

  • Current Title Register
  • Current Title Plan
  • Prior Copies of the Title Register
  • Prior Copies of the Title Plan
  • Conveyancing Deeds

Current Copies of the Title Register and Title Plan

The current Title Register contains details of the current ownership, the date of purchase, the date the property was first registered, and the price paid for the property. If the property is leasehold it will state the date the lease was created and provide the names of the parties to the original lease. It will also state the length of years the lease was created for.

The current Title Plan will show the current outline of the property, edged in red and may contain coloured tints, hatching and lines to denote rights, covenants and ownership, as explained in the Title Register.


Prior Copies

Prior Copies of the Title Register will show the ownerships and mortgages as at the date searched for. It is possible to obtain Prior Copies back to 1993. The Register will change every time there is a new owner or new mortgage.

Prior Copies of the Title Plan will show an outline of the property as it was at the time searched for, again, back to 1993. The property extent may change over time, e.g. because part of the property has been sold, or because it borders a river that has changed its course.

Prior Copies are useful for checking if the Land Registry have made an error in the currently registered documents.


Conveyancing Deeds

Conveyancing Deeds, in particular the conveyances or the transfers, will provide details of the purchaser and vendor at the date of the conveyance or transfer, even if it is further back than 1993. Not all conveyancing deeds can be obtained, but those that have been retained by the Land Registry in digital format are noted in the Register, which can quickly be checked to see what is available.


Historic England

Historic England maintain Historic Environment Records (HERs). This includes archaeology and the historic built environment. Examples of the type of historic information in these records are sites where prehistoric flint tools have been found, medieval castles, second world war pillboxes, historic buildings and landscapes, and local archeological sites and finds.

Their records are held electronically in a database and with a digital mapping system, so that the records are readily accessible online by the public. Local Authorities maintain the many offices of Historic England

Historic England maintain the following types of records:

  • Monuments, including buildings and any other heritage feature
  • Events such as excavations
  • Sources and Archives
  • Non-designated buildings and standing structures of historic interest
  • Designated Heritage Assets:
    • Listed Buildings
    • Scheduled Monuments
    • Protected Wrecks
    • Registered Parks and Gardens
    • Battlefields
  • Conservation Areas
  • Sites with known Paleo-Environmental Interest
  • Historic Landscape Character Studies including urban surveys
  • Finds recorded under the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Urban Archaeological Databases (UADs)

Records for selected major historic towns and cities are held within UADs, and which can be accessed through Historic England. These records are specialist records relating to the material past of certain towns and cities where long-term human habitation has resulted in a strong record of the past. Much of this has been gleaned from waste, which until the 19th century was not disposed locally by the people creating the waste.


British Archaeological Records

These records are mainly found in Google's Scholarly Articles.


British Listed Buildings

Most buildings erected before 1840 are listed. As a matter of practice buildings younger than 30 years are not usually listed. Once a building is listed it comes under the protection of the planning system.

The listed building grades are:

  • Grade I - Of exceptional interest
  • Grade II* - Particularly important buildings of more than special interest
  • Grade II - Of special interest. More than 90% of all listed buildings fall into this category, which would mean that most home owners living in a listed building would have this listing.

Listed buildings will be found in the records kept by British Listed Buildings, as well as Historic England.


Ancient and Scheduled Monuments

This record is kept by Historic England and comprises a selection of nationally important archaeological sites. These sites are closely managed. To be nationally important regard is had to the sites period, rarity, finds and documentation, group value, condition, vulnerability, diversity and potential.

Scheduling does not give the public a right of access to it, if the land is in private ownership.


Registered Battlefields

A register of Historic Battlefields is kept by Historic England. There are presently 46 registrations. The purpose of the registration is to protect them through the planning system, and to help the public better understand their significance.


Stately Homes

There are many websites in each county providing details of our Stately Homes. Stately Homes are large and impressive historic houses, mansions or the like that are often open to the public and that are or once were occupied by an aristocratic family (persons of noble birth holding hereditary titles and offices).


Our History Searches

We presently have two types of History Searches:

  1. Prior Copies Search (with or without the Conveyancing Deeds).
  2. House and Land History Search.

The Prior Copies search has options to include a copy of the Current Title Register, the Conveyancing Deeds and/or a Prior Copy of the Title Plan.

If selecting only a Prior Copy search you will be asked to select either the copy immediately prior to the date of the current Title Register, or else will be asked to specify a date that you require the Prior Copy for.

Amongst other things the Prior Copy Title Register will state the name and address of the then owner, the price paid for the property (if after 1993), the date of registration of his purchase and any mortgages current at that date.

A Prior Copy search, on its own, is available for a fee of £19.95


The following documents are included in this search, which costs £89.95:

  • Current Title Register
  • Current Title Plan
  • All Prior Copies of the Title Register, however many there are
  • All digitally held Conveyances and Transfers
  • Extract from Historic Records of the Property
  • Additional Options:
    • Census Records - every 10th year from 1841 to 1911 inclusive (£20 per census search - specify which decades)
    • Electoral Records - annually from 1918 to date (£12 extra per search - specify years)

These documents come together in a bound PDF cover, appropriately indexed.


Prior Copies Search

Obtain prior copies of the Title Register as well as options to include the Current Title Register, the Conveyancing Deeds and/or a Prior Copy of the Title Plan.

£19.95

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House and Land History

This search provides All Prior Copies of the Title Register and all digitally held Conveyances and Transfers for the property as well as options to include Census and Electoral Records.

£89.95

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Conveyancing Deeds

Deeds creating Restrictions, Covenants, Easements, etc. are often kept digitally by the Land Registry and made available for sale due to their invaluable detail and content to assist in further understanding the Restrictions, etc.

£29.95

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