Property history

Researching the history of your home and/or land can be a complex but fascinating process. Success depends on the survival of records, and this is not consistent. It might also depend on how much you already know about the property, and will almost certainly depend on when it was built and where in Cornwall it is.

Before you begin, it can be helpful to consult your title deeds as these can help enormously with dates and details. You could also read a property history book or magazine, or browse a relevant website just to give you some idea of what might be involved.

At Kresen Kernow we have a wide range of sources that can be useful for your research, including Ordnance Survey maps (from around 1880, 1906, 1933 and 1950s-70s), tithe maps and apportionments (c1840) and other estate maps and plans. The records of local landowners can also contain lots of relevant documents, such as deeds, leases and rentals. We also have District Valuation records from 1910, and other taxation records, as well as a wide range of documents from councils in Cornwall relating to specific properties. If you want to find out who lived in your property then rate books and the registers of electors (from 1922) are vital sources, and the census might also be useful.

Published histories of your local area may also be a good starting point for your research. If you’re lucky your house may have been investigated already! If your house is listed then it will be recorded in the Historic Environment Record. Council records also include records of planning committees.

You can view the Kresen Kernow guide to researching property history here.

Key words: map, tithe, rates, planning, deeds, leases, house or farm name, deed, architect, search by place name or plan/map format

Key collections: TM (tithe records), (DV) District Valuation, (CC) Cornwall Council and (DC) District Council records

Recommended reads:  The Cornishman’s house: an introduction to the history of traditional domestic architecture in Cornwall by Veronica Chesher, 1968; A guide to the do’s and don’ts of house and cottage interiors by Hugh Lander, 1982