Tracing Your Home’s History

Tracing Your Home's HistoryISBN 0-00-721140-6
9 780007 211401

Published by Collins, 2006, price £20.

This book is temporarily out of print, but some signed copies are still available from the author, price £15 plus £4 postage and packing.

Collins Tracing Your Home’s History is an indispensable and practical guide to help you unlock the stories and history behind your home.

Home history expert Anthony Adolph takes you step-by-step through the fascinating and illuminating process of discovering your home’s past and finding out how previous inhabitants lived within your four walls. Starting with the basic sources for beginners such as local archives and showing you how to trace previous inhabitants of your home, the book then leads you into taking your research further by investigating such things as architectural details and archaeological evidence. So whether you live in a Tudor cottage or a modern block of flats, Collins Tracing Your Home’s History is the book to help you bring history alive.

The book is fully up-to-date with internet resources; provides contact information and addresses for all the sources you will need; covers all types of home and contains many fascinating real-life examples.

Following on from the huge surge of interest in tracing family history, more and more people are turning their attention to the fascinating story of the home they live in. For anyone who has ever wondered how to date an architectural feature, or why those windows have always been bricked up, or just what kind of lives previous inhabitants lived within the same four walls, this is the definitive handbook.

The starting point for home history research is wonderfully close at hand. The most obvious clues are literally all around you and local archives are also a rich source. The book kicks off by showing how someone completely new to the subject can date their home, track down deeds, and start piecing together the lives of previous occupiers through local history archives, census records and other sources.

Among the many fascinating examples in this book are: a family’s garden where the funerary urn of an ancestor from the Roman sixth legion was dug up; a Greenwich home said to have been visited by the ghost of a boy who died two years earlier in Jamaica; a country house, once inhabited by a great aunt of Diana Princess of Wales, which has previously served as a nursing home, a block of flats, and a home for the exiled King of Norway during the Second World War.

And for those who want to take their search further, Anthony provides the tools to dig deeper and investigate everything from intricate architectural details to the geology of the land on which your home is built. The book covers all ages of home so is a wonderful universal sourcebook, whether you live in a 16th-century cottage, a Victorian terrace or a sixties flat.

This is the complete resource for discovering the history of the place where you live, and of all the other people who have called it home.

Tracing Your Home’s History is available from all good bookshops.



How to Use this Book (with charts)

Getting started

Keeping Records and Writing up the Results
Dating your Home
Land Registries and Title deeds
Past Inhabitants
Archives and the Internet
— Census
— Ordnance Survey maps
— Directories and Newspapers
— Electoral Registers and poll books
Local/Family Histories
Names and numbers of house and streets

Working back through time

The Twentieth Century
— Valuation office
Nineteenth Century Developments
— Tithe apportionments
— Land tax
Enclosures and other 18th century matters
— Window Tax
— Fire Insurance Records
Hearth Tax and other mid-late 17th century matters
Old Maps
Before the mid 17th century

Digging Deeper

General Registration and Parish Registers
Wills and Inventories
Parish Rates
Estate Records and sale papers
Manorial Records
Property deeds
Court Cases
Scottish land records

Broadening the picture

Your Home in Historical Context
Unusual Buildings
Chancel repairs
What Lies Beneath


Articles on Home History

“The Seven Pillars of Home History”, Family History Monthly, November, 2006, no. 136, pp. 30-35.

“Discover your Home’s Hidden History”, The Sunday Times: Home supplement, 27 August 2006, pp. 8-9.

Praise for Tracing Your Home’s History:

“Adolph and Collins have come up with an informative, enjoyable and very modern book. This is non-fiction publishing as it ought to be. Looking beyond the shiny surface, this is also a quality book I terms of content: the obvious quality makes Adolph’s book a great gift”, Your Family Tree, Autumn 2006, issue 43, p. 83

“It’s also an interesting book if you’re restoring your house and want to find out how it looked in the past” Period Living, January 2007, p. 139.

“… many of the guides [to house history] are boringly written and boringly illustrated, so it was refreshing to come across Anthony Adolph’s impressive book on the topic. This is very much in the same format as his well-regarded guide to family history…’ Simon Fowler, Ancestors [magazine of The National Archives], December 2006, p. 65.

One of Family History Monthly’s (Christmas 2006 no. 138 p. 20) TOP TEN BOOKS OF 2006: “This year has seen a raft of home history titles, but we think this one… is the best. He covers all the basics in his own inimitably enthusiastic style and his research is beautifully presented, with sample maps, plans and records. Bibliographies and indexes turn a simple beginner’s guide into a gateway for further research”.

Recommended in Your Family Tree (December 2007, issue 45, p. 65): “This Christmas I’d recommend Anthony Adolph’s book Tracing Your Home’s History. It might cost £20 but it’s a good quality book, reads well and offers an avenue similar to family history that someone experienced in the hobby would appreciate”.

“the author’s easy and engaging writing style and obvious deep enthusiasm for his subject retains the attention and interest of the reader… in many ways a fascinating read – a blend of urban architecture, social history and meticulous detection of the truth through an investigation of public records… Get hold of a copy and discover much more about where you live” – Rab MacWilliam. N16Magazine, Autumn 2007.

“…it amazing how much detail he has managed to cram in… this is the one [compared to two others under review, C. & I-O Style’s House History for Beginners and N. Barratt’s Tracing the History of your House] which I would recommend” – Sue Gibbon, Librarian of the Society of Genealogists, in The Genealogists’ Magazine, June 2008, pp. 239-240.

Other reivews:
“Trace your Home’s History”, Herald Express, 7 September 2006
“Trace your Home’s History”, Gloucester Citizen, 7 September 2006
“Tracing the History of your Home”, Torbay, Weekender, 21 September 2006
“Tracing your Home’s History”, Grimsby Evening Telegraph, 22 September 2006
“How to Trace the History of your Home”, The Forester, 14 September 2006
“Turn history detective and discover your home’s past”, Gloucestershire Echo, September 2006
The Lady, 5-11 December 2006, p. 35
“Uncover the secret history of your home”, House Beautiful, March 2007, pp. 150-153.
“Useful Book”, Practical Family History, December 2007, no. 120, p. 46.
“This is an excellent book, full of time saving information that makes researching the history of your home an easy and rewarding exercise rather than a time consuming and frustrating slog. There’s plenty of advice on different websites which can be viewed from the comfort of home and plenty of pointers to places where actual documents can be accessed. The book is well written and very readable – the starting point of a really interesting hobby. I’m amazed how much I’ve found out already”, Mrs V. Thompson, review (five stars).

The book was reproduced in a much reduced form as a cover-mounted addition to The Times on 6 November 2006.

The book was the subject of a talk by the author at Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing, on 20 June 2007, as part of British Architecture Week.