By Dr Nick Barratt
Tracing the history of your home can shed light on the lives of former residents,
key events in your neighbourhood's past, and even the original design of the
interior. Follow these tips for finding out more about uncovering your house's
If you want to find out more about the history of your house, like all good
detective stories, your research is likely to lead you down many avenues, some
of which will prove to be dead ends. However, this guide should whet your appetite
for research and introduce the main documents that you will need to consult
to piece together the clues. These will include maps and plans, legal material,
records for house occupancy, manorial records, tax returns and sources for 'national'
events. In addition it is also possible to reconstruct the original interior
appearance of your house through design registers, inventories and insurance
records, and bring the past back to life.
Try to get as much information from previous owners, neighbours, estate agents
and solicitors as you can, as there might be old title deeds, photographs or
sale catalogues waiting to be uncovered. Similarly, you will find a vast array
of sources relevant to your research in Local Study Centres, usually situated
in your nearest Branch Library. For example, local newspapers, printed maps
and local study publications carry vital information, and will help you to piece
together a clearer vision of what the local community was like.