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House History - Is My House Old Enough?

The BBC show "A House Through Time" has sparked interest in researching the life of a property alongside traditional family history research.

Many of the skills genealogists use to research property are similar to those used when looking into someone's family tree - census returns, civil registration records for birth, marriage or death, and newspapers. But there are other specific records which we can use to work out who owned a property and who was living there - which are often not the same people.

20th Century House History Research

Many of us in the UK live in a house built at some point in the last 100 years or so, and that can make things difficult for research. Privacy concerns mean that records produced less than 100 years ago can be difficult to access. That doesn't mean that there is no information out there; just that it's not digitised yet. So in order to access things like voter's rolls, you might have to spend time in the local library going through them manually rather than just accessing at the touch of a button.

The 1911 and 1921 census can give you not just the names of the people who were living in your property, but can also give a flavour of what the street was like at the time. Look at the occupations of neighbours, whether they have children, and so on. The 1939 register is another great source, although names of people born less than 100 years ago are likely to be redacted. The 1939 register only covers England and Wales - the Scottish version has yet to be released.

For properties of all ages, a newspaper search can throw up some really interesting information. Maybe someone who used to live in your house was involved in a scandal, or won a prize for their garden. Google searches can be useful too. Not every house has famous or scandalous former residents though, and in general terms, the grander the property, the more likely you are to find information.

If you are interested in researching the history of a house - please get in touch. I'd be delighted to chat through the possibilities, and a house history makes the perfect gift.

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