Anyone who has had the privilege of visiting Dunster will know that The Luttrell Arms is one of the most iconic buildings in the High Street. The building dates from the late 15th century and has a rich history. However the purpose of this blog post is not to give a full history of this magnificent building, but to show you a snapshot of it in time using the 1910 Valuation Act records, and show you their usefulness to family and local historians.
The 1910 Valuation Act, sometimes known as the Lloyd George Domesday Survey, arose out of the 1910 Finance Act. The whole country was surveyed taken with the aim of taxing rateable land or property. This tax was never collected, but the records it leaves behind are a fantastic resource for family and local historians, and enables you to identify where your family were living at the time. The country was divided up into 118 valuation districts, and a land valuation officer appointed to each. The Valuation Office used the 25″ Ordinance Survey maps, dividing the country up into numbered plots.
The plots on the Valuation Act map are annotated with red handwritten numbers. The Luttrell Arms is number 250. The red handwritten numbers are hereditament (or assessment) numbers. These are the key to finding out about more about a particular piece of land or property. When you know the assessment number, you can then locate the relevant entry in the valuation books (at local archives) or the field books (at The National Archives).
Information in the valuation books is much briefer. They contain the names of the occupier and owner, a very brief description (couple of words, e.g. “house & shop”), the address, gross annual value, and rateable value. The field books are much more interesting, which contain all the information in the valuation books AND a fuller description of the property. They list the rooms in the property, whether the property had services like mains water, and also comments on the state of repair, and tell you how much rent was paid, the term of the tenancy, and who was responsible for repairs.
TIP: If you’re just looking for one ancestor, I would advise looking at the valuation books (local archives) first to identify the property’s assessment number, as it is difficult to pinpoint where your ancestor lived just by looking at the map. The valuation books are in list format, so you can easily scan them for your ancestor’s name to find the assessment number, then use this assessment number to find the location of the property on the map and the fuller assessment in the field book at The National Archives.
If, like me, you have ancestors from Dunster, you’re in luck! I’m interested in the whole village, not just my own ancestors, so I have transcribed the 1910 Valuation Act records for the whole village. I will be putting them on this website with (technology/ability permitting!) a map, so you will be able to locate exactly where your Dunster ancestors lived and read the description of their property. That’s a project for the near future, but here’s a taster.
The Luttrell Arms consisted of a hotel, gardens, stabling and outbuildings. The owner/s were the executors of the late G. F. Luttrell, who had died the previous year. The occupier was William Evered. He had an annual tenancy, paying £87.1.0 per year (including water rates), which in 2017 equated to roughly £6,804.89. The rent William was paying was almost the gross value of the property – £87.18.0, around £6,871.34.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that the 1911 census was taken a year after the 1910 Valuation Act. A transcription of the occupants of The Luttrell Arms Hotel in the 1911 census is below:
Quite often the third and fourth pages of the field book entries just contain valuation figures, but for larger properties such as The Luttrell Arms, or farms, the description sometimes continues onto page 3:
I’ve transcribed the description below. Spelling, capitalisation of words and punctuation is as per the original document.
Range of old stone and part stuccoed buildings with slated roofs. In fair repair except that roofs are bad in places. It contains on top floor 9 bedrooms 3 of which are double bedrooms but one only has a fireplace. W.C. Housemaids closet and storeroom built for bathroom but not fitted or used as such. On First Floor 6 bedrooms 4 of which are double bedrooms and 3 have fireplaces. Sitting room with fire, old moulded plaster chimney piece 18ft x 18ft.
Drawing Room 22′ 6″ x 18′ 0 with small alcove over porch. Smoking room called “The Oak Room” with fine oak-beamed ceiling 22′ 6″ x 18’0 & open fireplace. Housemaids closet Bathroom, W.C. and 6 servants bedrooms. Balcony leading to small flower garden. Large Club Room with emergency exit and 2 fireplaces 53′ 3″ x 23′ 0.
On Ground Floor Porch Entrance Hall & Coffee Room 18′ 6″ x 26′ 0. Small Drawing Room, Private Dining Room, Bar Parlour about 15′ 0 x 12′ 0, small bar & office. Old kitchen with oak beams now used a serving room, kitchen, scullery, back stairs, dairy, larder, servants hall, W.C. lavatory & cellar. Stabling comprises 22 stall stable & 4 loose boxes, ostlers room, large triple coachhouse, another stable with 4 loose boxes, harness room and loft over same. Another large coachhouse. Pig styes and large store. Detached kitchen garden. Electric light & water from Dunster Castle Estate. Hotel is well known as a resort of Hunting men and of Americans.
I’ll be posting other entries from the 1910 Valuation Act at a later date. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into the 1910 Valuation Act records, and feel inspired to research your ancestors and their homes in these exciting records!
Valuation Act Map IR 128/1/997 (The National Archives)
Valuation Act book IR58/82374 (The National Archives)
1911 census: Series RG14, Piece Number 14124, Schedule 134
The National Archives Currency converter: 1270–2017: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency-converter/ [Accessed 19 June 1910]