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First steps in house history

Thinking about doing some research into the past of your house? Our guide will give you some pointers.

Where to start

Our researching your house history (pdf, 107kb) (opens in a new window) guide gives information on the type of records you can use to search for the history of your house at Dorset History Centre.

Before you start it is important to know that:

  • You are likely to find out more about the people who lived in the house and the area than you are about the building itself.  Records of construction are scarce, so don't expect to be able to pinpoint the exact construction date of the house

  • If is often useful to have access to any deeds for the property as a starting point.  These may be held by your building society, bank or solicitor.

Where to look

There is a wide range of documents you could use whilst researching the history of a building. Find out more about how to use them in our house history guide (pdf, 107kb) (opens in a new window)

  • Maps and Surveys: Ordnance Survey, Tithe maps, enclosure maps and estate maps, surveys and rentals

  • Records of buying and selling: title deeds, sales particulars, and trade directories

  • Death and taxes: Census returns, Land tax records, wills and inventories

  • Rate books: Rate books, planning records, Alehouse Recognisances

Good luck in all your research and don't hesitate to contact us if you need some help.

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