Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 3°C

Search
Norfolk Tourism Awards

10 ways to find out more about your home’s history

PUBLISHED: 15:56 18 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:56 18 January 2018

A House Through Time: Presenter David Olusoga in front of 62 Falkner Street in Liverpool (C) BBC

A House Through Time: Presenter David Olusoga in front of 62 Falkner Street in Liverpool (C) BBC

WARNING: Use of this copyright image is subject to the terms of use of BBC Pictures' Digital Picture Service (BBC Pictures) as set out at www.bbcpictures.co.uk. In particular, this image may only be published by a registered User of BBC Pictures for editorial use for the purpose of publicising the relevant BBC programme, personnel or activity during the Publicity Period which ends three review weeks following the date of transmission and provided the BBC and the copyright holder in the caption are credited. For any other purpose whatsoever, including advertising and commercial, prior written approval from the copyright holder will be required.

The BBC’s A House Through Time has left many of us wishing we could become domestic detectives. Find out how you can discover the secrets your house is hiding and unearth important clues to your house’s own history and previous inhabitants.

A House Through Time: Presenter David Olusoga inThe Athenaeum (C) BBCA House Through Time: Presenter David Olusoga inThe Athenaeum (C) BBC

Every old house has a story of its own – but how do you unlock the secrets of the home you live in just like David Olusoga has done in the BBC’s A House Through Time?

If you’d like to find out more about your home, the key is to start from firm ground – your ownership of the house – and work backwards through time to see what you can discover about the history of your home. It’s not always an easy task, but the rewards are plentiful.

From the largest mansion house to the smallest cottage, every home has a story - the history of your home isn’t just about the building itself, it’s about the people who bought the land, built the house and lived in it which has influenced its shape and structure.

Through the prism of one single terraced house in Liverpool, A House Through Time tells a story of Britain from the 1840s to the present day - a period of seismic social change.

A House Through Time -  David Olusoga at Liverpool Central Library (C) BBCA House Through Time - David Olusoga at Liverpool Central Library (C) BBC

Searching through city archives, scouring records, and tracking down their living descendants, presenter David Olusoga tells the untold stories of the people who once lived in 62 Falkner Street in Liverpool and gains a unique insight into the making of modern Britain.

But how easy is it to turn domestic detective and find out more about the bricks and mortar that we call home? Here are 10 simple ways to start looking into your own house’s story to discover the hidden history under your roof.

How to find out about your home’s history:

1) Find the visual clues: You can quickly establish a great deal about the house you live in by simply looking at it – from the very obvious (look for a mark made when the house was built or the name of the house incorporated into the façade) to the architecture inside your home, such as fireplaces, which can tell you a lot about the status of your home. The most important room to check is the first floor at the front of the house, which was historically the room where guests would be entertained (now often the main bedroom in a modern house). Brick styles and building methods, window and stairway styles and designs all help with dating.

2) Ask your neighbours: Older neighbours who have lived in your area for a long time may have information which will help you or anecdotal stories about your home and where it was built which may help your research. A neighbour of mine who had lived on the street since the 1950s was able to tell me about three other owners of our home and stories about how many people lived there – fascinating.

3) A list of listings: If your house is listed, the National Heritage List for England (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/) has a register of all nationally-protected historic buildings and sites in England and offers a description of the property and its claims to special interest. Listings after 2005 are far fuller than earlier listings. Information may include information on the architect or figures associated with a house, details of later alterations or excavations, material the house is made from, its style, design and layout.

4) Map it out: You can look at old ordnance survey maps which can show you how the area where your house is has changed over time. You can generally find old OS maps from the 1840s onwards at county record offices and local libraries. Older maps from can be found at the National Archives (nationalarchives.gov.uk) which show land boundaries, names of tenants or owners and usage. In 1910, the Valuation Office survey mapped every property in the country and recorded details about their owners, occupiers and addresses or your home may be listed on estate maps, if it was once part of a large estate. Look at www.old-maps.co.uk to find Ordnance Survey maps dating back to the 1800s.

5) Location, location, location: It’s worth looking at where your home was built for clues, but be aware that your home may have changed its number or name over the years. Is your house attached to a local estate? Is it near a railway, or an old railway line? Was it built to house factory workers? Did it have a previous use as a vicarage, rectory, public house, school, toll house or farm building?

6) Where there’s a will...If your house is Georgian or older, there’s a chance that a will could unlock more secrets. Wills often had inventories of furniture, too, so you can find out exactly what used to be inside your house and how much it was worth. Wills for people who died in or after 1858 may be found at www.gov.uk/search-will-probate.

7) Find out who lived in your house: You can search through electoral rolls, which are available in libraries, but remember there were no electoral rolls during the second world war due to more frequent changes in ownership and evacuations. Gaps can be filled by looking at local taxation records, also at the library, which list the names of people who lived in a house. If you have access to the deeds to your property, you’ll be able to find out useful information about previous owners and occupiers.

8) Read all about it: Your house name or street address may be mentioned in newspaper reports and once you’ve discovered who has lived in the house, you can search for their names and discover if they were ever written about. Many newspaper archives are available online, some pay per view but many available freely through libraries, The British Library’s newspaper collection is the largest in the UK.

9) Answers in the archive: Visit www.mycouncil.direct.gov.uk to find your council’s website and unlock a host of information in the form of local archives and records about the area where you live.

10) Look from above: You may be able to date your house, and the houses around it, by looking at aerial photographs. It’s possible to see changes in boundaries and the size and shape of buildings if you look from above. Most local councils will be able to point you in the direction of where you can find aerial photographs which typically date from the late 19th century to the present day.

* A House Through Time is on BBC2 on Thursdays, 9pm and on iPlayer.

Traffic is reported to be building in north west Ipswich after a driver allegedly hit another vehicle, fled the scene and left their vehicle blocking the road.

The true story of a hoarder, and how one social enterprise saved her life

Frontline staff at the region’s ambulance trust have launched a public petition in what they say is a bid to influence bosses.

An Ipswich grandfather who was infected with two deadly diseases during the worst health scandal in NHS history is hoping the truth will be revealed after a major inquiry got underway.

AN HMRC office in Ipswich town centre is set to be saved from planned closure and retained as a specialist tax site, it has been revealed.

A garden centre was fined more than £100,000 after a member of staff was hurt when cleaning up hazardous chemicals.

Aspiring actors auditioned in the hope of landing the role of a lifetime alongside Stevi Ritchie and Atomic Kitten’s Natasha Hamilton in this year’s pantomime at the Ipswich Regent.

Two teenage boys have been accused of making up claims they were sexually assaulted by an Ipswich bar manager.

Rail services in Suffolk and Essex have been disrupted after a person was hit by a train.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Ipswich Star daily newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24