UK land ownership; I know it's complicated,what's the simple version?
February 15, 2014 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Please suggest sources for a layman's understanding of the evolution of land ownership law/practice in the UK, from feudal times through today. Yes I know this is a tall order. But, that's why you're reading this question. Right?
posted by John Borrowman to Law & Government (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I was going to refer you to this question from 2013, but then realised that it was from you. Were any of the texts suggested in that question useful?
posted by Kerasia at 4:20 PM on February 15, 2014

The simple version is, there is no simple version.

The standard legal textbook is A History of the Land Law by the late great Brian Simpson. But this is for law students, and may not give you the 'layman's understanding' that you're looking for. For a broad historical overview you could try North and Thomas's The Rise of the Western World, which sees land law and property rights as the driving forces of modernity. But this is controversial, and once you start looking into it you quickly get sucked into the whirlpool that is the Brenner Debate (which nearly put me off economic history for life when I had to study it as an undergraduate) and the revisionist attack on feudalism.

In short: it's complicated. But you might find food for thought in the empirical approach pioneered by the Cambridge Group: see, for example, the essays in Land, Kinship and Life-Cycle, or Alan Macfarlane's reflections on Maitland and the Making of the Modern World, esp. pp 84-5, where he suggests that 'English law and society had a continuous evolution from 1200 onwards and there was no great break, no 'transformation' from one kind of civilization to another'.
posted by verstegan at 5:02 PM on February 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I enjoyed An Introduction to English Legal History by J H Baker. It has several chapters on land law. You can probably get an older edition for cheap.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:34 AM on February 16, 2014

Best answer: For Scotland, The Poor Had No Lawyers. The author very much has an agenda, but he also lays out very clearly the history of land ownership in Scotland.
posted by Vortisaur at 1:37 AM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

See if you can source a copy of "Who Owns Britain" by inter-library loan? It's out of print sadly.
posted by pharm at 7:16 AM on February 16, 2014

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