If you are interested in finding out all about your home’s past, from previous tenants to historical facts, here are a few tips to help get you started.
Does your home, or any around it, have a blue plaque on the façade? These are to commemorate notable people who lived or worked in the building and can help you start to build a clearer picture of your home. By using this information, you can research the person, who they were, their job, family, daily life, and start to build your knowledge from there. There may also be photographs or paintings from the time they lived there, which can again help you see how the building may have changed and developed over the years.
Is your home a listed building? These are specific buildings or structures that are deemed significant, either historically or architecturally. You can search for listed buildings and check whether yours is one of them. This will help you understand the age of the property, as the majority of listed buildings were built before 1850. This system is also graded; Grade I, Grade II*, and Grade II. Grade II is the most common, with over 90% of listed buildings falling into this category.
You may be able to find out who the previous tenants of the property were, and in turn, they could help you trace even further back. Do you rent your property, or did you buy it? If you purchased it using a Help to Buy scheme, there’s a large chance it is a new build, which means the history will be quite a short one! There are plenty of resources to help you, such as electoral registers, the census, and the house’s title deeds. If you are in a new build, make sure to keep up to date records of yourself so that anyone with a keen interest in history who lives there in the future can trace the home’s journey too!
Using local history societies and records is another very useful way of gaining information. This is great if you don’t have internet access and is also a wonderful way of connecting with fellow history lovers in your local area. Does your town or village have anything like this? If not, why not set one up yourself? This collaborative approach is beneficial not just for the social aspect but also to pool your knowledge and combine your efforts. Check local notice boards, Facebook groups, and publications to see if you can find any near you, and you never know who you will meet or what you will learn!
These are just a few tips, to begin with, and there are plenty of online resources to make it really easy to research. Local libraries and even schools may also have more information, and as they are local, it may even be more detailed and accurate. Tracing the history of your home can help you better understand the area you live, the people who lived there before, and how you can leave your impact on your house’s history too.