The job of the house historian is to research the history of houses. In most cases, but not all, the property would be a someone’s home. House historians can research the history of any house or building. Learning about the people who lived in your home or worked in your building can be an intriguing pastime. Each property is attractive to us as house historians, ranging from a regular semi-detached house to a terrace or grand villa. Renovated buildings such as churches and hotels often have a well-documented history, but the house historian can often add to the story.
Researching house histories has become a popular hobby. We have written case studies on some of our projects which will give you an idea of how we approach our fact-finding missions. Here we share some more information about available resources.
House History Resource Services
There is a comprehensive scope of free services available to you if you would like to conduct house history research. Services offered in local archives and libraries are often free. Some services provided by specialist websites may charge.
If your house is listed, check the National Heritage List for England. This site has details of every listed building. It can help you with a date of construction and also with any distinguishable features about your property.
You will need to get an estimation of the age of your property. Various resources can help you with this.
Archives and Maps
Simply looking at your property may provide clues, note the design and building materials used. Members of your local community might have information that could help. Reading up on your local history may add a valuable insight. The Northumberland Archives search rooms are an excellent place to visit to view copies of old Ordnance Survey maps. Different editions of O S maps are also available online at National Library of Scotland and Old-Maps.co.uk
Do You Have The Deeds For Your House?
If the deeds to your house have survived, they will give you the most accurate historical information. You may have the deeds yourself, if not, it is worth approaching your solicitor, building society or bank. You may have an abstract of the title; this is a summary document that records the transactions on your property. If the deeds have not survived the abstract of title could give important clues to the history of your house.
Find out which administrative area your house is in. If you know the county, registration district and parish that your property is in this will help when you are looking through records.
To The Manor Born
If your house was part of a manor the Manorial Documents Register will give you information on which records survive. If your house records have survived this register can tell you where to access them.
House Residents and Lists
Searches of census returns between 1841 and 1911 will help establish who lived in your house. Commercial subscriptions are available at Ancestry and Find My Past. Your local records office or library will often provide access to these sites free of charge.
Digital copies of the 1911 England and Wales Register are also available on these sites. This list is a useful tool for discovering who lived in specific properties.
Lists of voters are recorded in Electoral Registers. Registers for Newcastle are available online through Ancestry. Northumberland registers are accessible through Northumberland Archives.
House History Research
We would love to hear from you if you would like Discovering Heritage to help uncover the story of your house. Our researchers have a wealth of experience in this area. We have undertaken research for the Open University, Higham Hall Educational Trust, Newcastle University and the Ring Net Heritage Trust. Our House History Packs cover a range of research options from a basic house chronology to a detailed house history with resident profiles included. Full pack details are available HERE