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House histories

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House histories

Postby Cal » Tue Feb 12, 2008 5:06 pm

Hi everyone,

These forums are fascinating reading! Just hoping to get an opinion on something - hopefully someone can help me out.

I was just reading Alan Crosby's site on "Who's been living in your house?" and it got me thinking about the numerous addresses my family history has led me to in London. As I'm in Australia, I've always wondered what these houses looked like (don't know about anyone else, but I get very imaginative when it comes to the old family history [:)], we built our house in 1980, so no such luck for me on any mysterious former owners!) Anyway, I was thinking of writing a letter to "The Occupant" of some of these residences, hoping to find someone sympathetic to my research, who would perhaps be willing to send me a pic of the house. Am I being totally idealistic and/or stupid?! Would love to hear how any of you would respond to such a letter...I'm guessing most of them would end up in the bin!
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RE: House histories

Postby keldon » Tue Feb 12, 2008 7:53 pm


From my experience you will be suprised how interested people will be - providing, that is, the house is still the original one. I have researched the history of several houses and when I knock on the door and tell the present occupants my interest, more often than not they are interested and add their little bit of knowledge about the house. Give it a try and drop them a line, you never know.

The alternative is try other forums (much busier than this) and ask there. There may be someone living just around the corner from the address. Try

Also check with the local library or archive for that area. There may be photograph in their archive of the street and maybe the house.

Hope this helps.

History of Essex
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RE: House histories

Postby margaretabram » Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:10 am

From my experience you need to watch out for a few problems:
[ul][*]The street name has changed (e.g. Grande Rue to Rue de Charles de Gaulle)
[*]The address has changed ( e.g. 4 York Villas to 44 The Mall)
[*]The street numbers have changed (e.g. no. 1 is now no. 11)
[*]The address is the same but the property was rebuilt after being bombed in the war[/ul]
So get checking before you get someone to take a photo. Nevertheless it can be so exciting when it IS the right house! Perhaps the magazine could have a help column on this topic. It would be fun to take photos in my town and send them to people living away from the UK.

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RE: House histories

Postby Cal » Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:20 pm

Thanks so much for the advice Mags and keldon...I'll let you know how I get on!
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RE: House histories

Postby ksouthall » Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:00 am

I have only just read this forum but thought you might be interested to hear that, some time ago, there was an article in our local paper, "The Crawley News" (West Sussex), for someone trying to find out about "4 Ladysmith Terrace", as their father had been born there. They had not been able to trace the address so believed the house no longer existed.
There was a phone number attached to the article so I was able to ring them and let them know that the house still existed as I was living in it at the time, however it was now part of a longer road so was known as "90 Hazelwick Road".
They were very excited about the information and visited at the earliest opportunity.
If you are interested in finding out where your ancestors lived, it may be possible to search for the address in Google, or some other web browser.
Alternatively, you could contact the local newspaper and ask them to run a short article to see if anyone responds.
I hope this helps,
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RE: House histories

Postby Daniel Cossins » Tue Dec 02, 2008 5:13 pm

This sounds like a really interesting, ahem, avenue for house history research.

Please do let us know if any of you have any success with contacting the owners of houses your ancestors once lived in.

I'd also be keen to hear any stories about how you or your friends have traced the history of a property and/or the people who lived there.

Is their any particular aspect of researching house history that you would like to see covered in the magazine?
Daniel Cossins
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RE: House histories

Postby ksouthall » Tue Dec 02, 2008 9:06 pm

I would use the censuses to trace Victorian residents in a house. For more recent occupants, I would obtain the details from the Land Registry. It costs about £3.00 to download the title documents.

I am not sure how I would continue if I came to a dead end though. If you could cover any alternative routes in the magazine, that would be right up my street.

Were my attempts at puns any better than yours?

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RE: House histories

Postby pre1837 » Tue Dec 02, 2008 9:56 pm

Play around in [link=][/link]. You're be suprised what you can find
Interested in the surname SNELL circa 1910, Middlesex. and Claudia Vail nee Snell, living and married in Canada from about 1912/16.

Any information is Crown Copyright, from"
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RE: House histories

Postby noseyoap » Thu Dec 04, 2008 5:20 am

Just thought you would like to know about a house in Liverpool my great grandmother used to live in. My mother is 88 years old and tells stories of a 3 storey house her grandmother used to live in, in Prescot Street, Liverpool. She was only about 4 years old but she can remember her young cousins locking her in an attic room. On a recent visit to Liverpool we realised how near we were to Prescot Street, so we had a walk up. Low and behold the house was still there so we took some photographs then show them to my mother. She recognised it immediatley and was quite emotional about it, she said it hadn't really changed that much.
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Re: House histories

Postby lynh444 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:49 pm

Each visit back the north east of England saw my husband and myself driving round the places I went to school, the beautiful old Bungalow I was born in and returned to live with my great grandparents on each occasion my father was posted unaccompanied. I never plucked up the courage to knock on the door. A local businessman had seen a photo I had sent into the magazine and knew the photographer - this was an amazing connection as he knocked on the door, spoke to the owners and told the story of my being born there etc..(we'd chatted and emailed quite a bit with lots of info being exchanged). Last year hubby and I made contact with the owners who invited us for an afternoon as long as I brought any old photographs of the place to show them. It was absolutely mind-blowing for me, I got quite emotional and couldn't get over how much smaller the place looked, remembering of course the last time I was there I'd have been 11 years old. The couple couldn't have been lovelier, making us so welcome and showing us round the home they had made so beautiful. From it's beginnings as a Coach House with the row of Stables behind (made into another bungalow many years ago) the lovely gardens have now been built in with modern homes, prettily but obviously not to my liking as they've taken all the space from 'my home' but the layout and rooms are still the same only much brighter, the old range in the living/kitchen has only been removed within the past 5 years, unfortunately I had no photos of it but was able to describe it to our hosts. The wash-house which housed a big bricked in boiler, we also kept our cycles etc in there has been changed into their kitchen with patio doors to look out to the garden - it's beautiful and the original big room/kitchen was made into their living room. I really appreciated their kind hospitality and seeing the original deeds just completed my world of my birthplace.
I'm sorry if this has gone on a bit, but it does show one side of the story of looking up your old properties
I have been to see other places my ancestors lived, in Scarborough with the addresses taken from the censuses and took photos of the houses which I don't think have changed very much from the outside. It was amazing seeing them but didn't knock on any doors...
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