About House History

Why research the history of your house?

There are many reasons why you might choose to research the history of your home, but when we talk to prospective clients, there tend to be three main motives behind a request for our services:

  • People are seeking to make a personal connection with a beloved old house or listed property by understanding its history and past occupants

[frame align=”right”]It is very easy to fall in love with an old property, and many of our clients simply want to know more about the history of the building they call home. They wish to find out when it was built, and by whom; the names of the people that occupied it over time, and how they lived in it; the reasons for a major rebuilding exercise; and the house’s links with the local community. Our reports aim to deliver answers to these questions, and more. Many people have expressed a closer bond with their house after finding out about its history. One couple even said that they felt like they were now curators of local heritage rather than property owners!

  • Curiosity about a property where an ancestor once lived, rather than your own house, including property that might not even still stand today

[frame align=”right”]Alternatively, others are drawn to house history through a more personal link – a genealogical connection. Whilst researching one’s family history, many of the key biographical documents record an address where our ancestors lived. It is fascinating to track down these houses, especially if they are still standing, and research what they were like, or whether they stayed in the family for any length of time. We can help put ‘flesh on the bones’ of your research with our social history investigations – and explain what happened to the property if it has been subsequently demolished. However if it does still stand, it is tempting to pay a visit – part of the enticement of tracing one’s roots.

  • Adding value to the property, or making it more marketable when looking to sell – particularly if you have an old or listed property that will attract a certain type of buyer who wants to ‘own’ a piece of heritage

[frame align=”right”]Finally, there is an overtly financial reason for house history – namely, when it comes to selling a house, being able to provide a full history of the property (particularly if it is an old building with an interesting past) will make it easier to sell to a certain audience who want to ‘own’ a piece of national heritage, and can even add value to the property. Market research has shown that expenditure on a house history, as part of the vendor’s pack, can considerably raise the asking price of a property – one national chain of estate agents even employed their own house historian to research the background of properties they were selling for their clients.

Whatever your interest in house history, drop us an email to see how we can help you.

Realistic Expectations about Historical Research

[frame align=”right”]We recommend a 4-6 day research package, as experience shows us that the majority of key information about a house will be found within this timeframe. However, further research is always recommended in our reports, as there may be more material to view – for example, it would often take 4-6 weeks of research to find sufficient information to make a 30 minute House Detectives programme for the BBC. Clearly, you could spend months or even years on the project, focusing on key families or moments of social history; therefore our recommended 4-6 day package is intended as an overview to give you a flavour of the rich history that took place within your walls.

As with any piece of historical research, there is sadly no guarantee of results. We strive to find out as much as we can in the period that you’ve commissioned, and if there are real problems that we can spot early on, we will tell you – and halt the process immediately. Difficulties can arise when few documents have survived for a house, and size and antiquity are no guarantee that material will survive. Indeed the further back in time you go, the sparser the historic record can get – though our teams are experts in tackling documents written in Latin, or if the handwriting is hard to read. We find that there can be just as much information about a small building from 1850 or 1920 as a manor house built in 1550.

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