He has his eye on plots in Hackney and Shoreditch, and is taking in leases on the properties around Austin Friars, which he intends to enfold in his building plans; and then, build a big wall around the lot. He has surveys to hand of a manor in Bedfordshire, one in Lincolnshire, and two Essex properties he intends to put in trust for Gregory.

— Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

What is the meaning of "hand" here?

  • It doesn't make sense to me (AmE).
    – user3169
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 3:26

1 Answer 1


It isn't actually 'hand' that you want to be looking at - the expression is 'to hand', and it means "within easy reach" or "readily available". It's a shortened version of the full expression, which is 'close to hand'.

So that sentence is telling you that the subject of the paragraph has survey documents within his possession and able to be used when required.

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