The History of Houses
There are many reasons why people want the history of their house recorded:
- to discover who used the building before
- to enhance the value of the property prior to sale
- to produce a marketing brochure to attract and interest visitors
- to link the building with known local history
- as a present for family members
We have been investigating the history of houses and buildings for many years.
We are currently concentrating on buildings in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and
the Cotswolds. There are essentially seven main questions to which you may require
- What was here before this building?
- When was this building built, when was it altered?
- Who built it and who altered it?
- How is the building structured?
- Who owned it?
- Who has lived in the building?
- What events have been associated with it?
The work, time and expertise invoved in trying to obtain answers to these questions is varied, and thus there are three steps in the research process.
- Basic Survey and Report. This entails a visit to the house or building; and a discussion of what you would like to achieve. Then a search is made through those documents which are likely to give the most information in the shortest time at local archive centres. This will provide the skeleton and basis for any further research you may wish to conduct. Indicative prices for this report are £1500 for the Cotswolds, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire and will take about 6 weeks.
- A Full Search and Report. Assuming the Basic Survey has already been completed, the next stage is to investigate those documents held in London and/or other archive centres which may add detailed interest and information. Indicative prices for this report are £2000 for the areas listed above, and will take about 6 weeks.
- A Surgical Strike and Report. This may follow the Basic or Full Search, where a detailed search is made of the more unusual or time-consuming records in an attempt to fill any gaps that you may wish to be addressed. The search options will be discussed and directed by you. Prices will be charged on a per diem basis.
Occasionally, outside experts may have to be brought in for a particular operation, e.g. if you wish a dendro-chronologist to date the timbers of your building, or an architectural archaeologist to provide a structural drawing of your timber-framed house etc.
It is important to bear in mind that even if time and funds were not limiting factors, it is extremely unlikely that all seven questions above will be answered; some buildings are very poorly documented; houses change numbers as well as names; critical records may have been destroyed or their location may defy discovery or examination (e.g. some historic manuscripts have been purchased by foreign museums who do not allow researchers access). We tend to err on the side of caution, and will curtail lengthy and little-to-gain searches on your behalf. There is no benefit in spending hundreds of hours on a search for a needle in a haystack, to tell you we found nothing.
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