The Hearth Tax: Northumberland and Durham

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Adrian Green

A hearthside scene, from a period image

The Hearth Tax, levied between 1662 and 1688, is an invaluable documentary resource for anyone interested in the history of housing and the built environment. Surviving hearth tax lists enable us to reconstruct the housing stock of England between the Restoration of 1660 and the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

To do so, however, requires an appreciation of the administration of the tax, and what the deceptively simple lists of householders and hearth numbers represent in relation to actual houses and settlements. This lecture set out the ways in which the hearth tax records for Durham, Northumberland and Newcastle upon Tyne enable us to reimagine the housing of north-east England in the seventeenth century. Combining documentary records with archaeological evidence from standing and excavated buildings enables the landscape of villages, towns and new industrial communities across the region to be reconstructed, just as they were seen by Gregory King and Daniel Defoe.


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