The Finance Act of 1909-1910 was passed to allow the levying of a duty on the incremental value of all land in the United Kingdom. The main objective of this tax was to increase the contribution from private landowners for appreciation of their property which resulted from the expenditure of public money in the form of improved roads and public services. The Valuation was undertaken by District Valuation Offices of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue and included the inspection of every piece of property and land throughout the whole country. This process took five years to complete.
Two types of books were created as a result of this new taxation: the Valuation Books, and the Field Books. The Valuation Books for Herefordshire, often referred to as the ‘Domesday Books’, survive as the following sequence of records. These detail the name and occupier of the premise, the number of assessment (which corresponds to the plans), description of property (house, land, shop etc.), address, extent of land, and the valuation of the property as on 30 April 1909.
There are also two sets of plans to accompany these books: the working plans used in the course of the original valuation and the record plans made after that valuation was completed. Herefordshire Record Office holds the former, where they survive, which consist of a series of Second Edition Ordnance Survey maps. Each property or parcel of land is indicated on the map by an assessment number, with boundaries of property shown through some colour marking. These numbers reoccur in numerical order in the Valuation Books as abovementioned.
Finance Act records at The National Archives
The final record, compiled after the survey was completed, was written up in small bound volumes called Field Books. These can only be viewed at The National Archives and form the series Valuation Office: Field Books (IR 58). The amount of information entered in the Field Books varies considerably, but usually includes the names of owner and occupier; the owner's interest (freehold, copyhold, etc.); details of tenancy (term and rent); and the area covered by the property. Other details recorded may include the date of erection of buildings, number of rooms, state of repair, liability for rates, insurance and repairs, date(s) of previous sale(s) and, sometimes, a sketch-plan of the property. Figures entered for the purpose of valuation normally include the market value of fee simple of the whole property and the market value of the site divested of structures, timber and plants.
The National Archives also hold the record plans for Herefordshire (IR 129/3) and other counties in England and Wales. These plans can act as an alternative source where a working plan no longer survives.