Tracing Your Houses History by Averil Kear


Tracing Your House History, with Averil Kear

Meeting of 14th October 2010

Averil’s background in archives and local history came fully to the fore with her illuminating and instructive talk on how to start finding out about the history of your house, illustrated by Averil’s own research on Bicknor Cottage.

Through a whole range of documents, Averil managed to trace the history of Bicknor Cottage back to around 1780-1790 when it was built by William Ambery after he pulled down the White Hart pub. Presumably the pub was pretty much in ruins as he bought it for 5 shillings, but in 1698 it had been sold for £100.

Averil told us the best way to start research is with getting a rough date on the house by looking at door and window surrounds – and comparing those to dated examples; but be careful of buildings made to look old, and of misleading evidence: The Corn Mill may never have milled corn, but been the home of the Corn family!

To take things further, work out where your house is on a modern map (in relation to roads, buildings, field boundaries etc) so you can find it again on older maps. So, start from what you know and go backwards. Gloucester Archives holds old maps, and old house deeds which can give a huge amount of information. (NB: deeds are not required anymore for buying and selling houses, so solicitors often get rid of them, if you have some the Archives will care for them for free). And whilst on old legal documents, did you know why an indenture is so named? It comes from teeth (as in denture) as the two portions are cut with a wiggly line so that they can be matched up again.

Names of people who have lived in your house can be followed up through Electoral Registers, Trade Directories, Census returns (which are free online) and Gloucester Archives online personal names index.

Barbara Britton has ‘pretty much done it all’ according to Averil, so do ask her to help with your house history research. Coleford Library are a great starting place for accessing all the online records, just ask. Contact Gloucester Archives on 01452 425295 or online. CS