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Tracing the history of your house

Title deeds

Read through the deeds to the property, if you can gain access to them. They should include descriptions of the property and its location. It will also name former owners and occupiers.

Bundles of deeds may include abstracts of title, which may contain extracts from earlier deeds which no longer survive.

There may also be an enfranchisement deed or other evidence that the building was once copyhold (that it belonged to a manor). In this case, earlier records of ownership may be in the manor court rolls and books, described below.

The books by Dibben, Alcock and Barratt listed at the end of this guide can help you to interpret your deeds.

The NRO holds thousands of title deeds, but many relate to estates presently or formerly owned by large public, private, or ecclesiastical landowners. References to them are in the places card index in the searchroom and in our online catalogue.

Deeds enrolled before the Clerk of the Peace or the courts of the city of Norwich or the boroughs of King's Lynn and Great Yarmouth survive for various dates from 1280 to 1887; please ask for details.

About two-thirds of property titles in England and Wales are registered with the Land Registry and copies of title plans and registers held in electronic format can be downloaded for a fee.

The information on the register includes a note of the location and extent of the property, the current owner's name and address and details of any mortgages or rights of way.