How Do I Research The History of My House?

House Histories Discovering Heritage House History Pack contents

Discovering Heritage can help you research the history of your house.

We have put together a case study on one of our recent house history commissions. In the following post we describe the processes and some of the resources we use in our research. We will take you through our work from our clients instruction to the final production of our bespoke house history pack.

Client Request

We were asked to research the history of a house in Gosforth. Our client was particularly interested in the answers to three questions.

When was the house built?

When was the house built in relation to the rest of the street?

Who lived in the house and when?

Our Approach to the House History

We find it is always best to work with our clients on a personal level.  With this in mind, we arranged a house visit. House visits usually take about 1 hour. During our visit, we discussed our client’s request and what they might expect from our research. We showed examples of original building plans on properties we had previously researched. The client didn’t have the original property deeds – they don’t appear to have survived. However we had a look at the remaining paperwork relating to the property and this did provide a couple of clues.

We followed our house visit with an email confirming our arrangement and then began our research. Our client had chosen the Genuine Article House History package which bought 5 hours of research presented in one of our specially designed house history packs. 

How Do We Research A House Or Property History?

We began by locating the property on historic Ordnance Survey maps. The purpose of this was to provide the client with a visual guide to the development of the street and it also helped us narrow down the date that the property was built.

Portion of 1st and 2nd edition Ordnance Survey Maps
1st and 2nd edition Ordnance Survey Map portions

We then made a search of Local Authority planning registers and found reference to the original planning application. We then looked at the planning file. This included the original coloured building plan confirming the date of application, the architect, the name of the person submitting the application and the original proposed layout of the property.  

We followed this by looking at sources that told us about the owners or occupiers of the property. The sources that we looked at included census returns, directories, electoral registers, newspapers, rate books and records of birth, marriage and death. This research allowed us to make a list of all of the owners/occupiers and write a potted history of the property.

1901 census in House History pack
1901 census
1911 census in Discovering Heritage House History pack
1911 census

The Next Stage

We prepared photographic evidence of our findings where possible. Once we completed the 5-hour research block, we brought all the information together and sent it off to our graphic designer.

Graphic Design

Graphic design and printing is the final part of the process. Our graphic designer formatted our research and checked the quality of our photographic reproductions. Using skills in the Adobe Creative Cloud software, along with an eye for detail and aesthetics, our designer comes up with creative solutions to layout our research in a simple yet engaging way.

Our designer designs the house pictures and cards for our 3 and 4 star packages, she also added a special touch with a bespoke timeline of residents for our client’s house. We included this as an A3 sized pull out in our pack.

Cover page
Resident timeline

This is a list of what was included in a typical pack

Cover pages printed with clients name house number and street

Written detailed house chronology

Specially designed A3 timeline of residents (extra copies available for framing) unique to the property

Photographs of 1901 & 1911 census and 1939 register entries to back up our research

Photographs of 1st 2nd & 3rd editions of OS map portions showing the street development

An early photograph of the street c1918

Notes for further research options

The Final Stage

We brought our research together with our graphic designer/interpreter to produce a unique history pack for our client . Our House History pack was delivered.

Front doorstep with Discovering Heritage House History pack by the door.
Special delivery
Client with Discovering Heriathe house history pack
Our happy client

How Much Does It Cost?

While you are here why not pay a visit to our Little Histories Shop to view our full range of bespoke products inspired by our love of the archives? We know you’ll love it!

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