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House history

First, you need to make a decision. Are you interested in the building, or who lived there?Please note that there may be gaps in the coverage of our collections.

How old is your house?

As a general rule, it is harder to find out how old your house is the further back in time you go.

Davis Estates Ltd brochure, South Ruislip, approx 1930 More records survive from the 20th century than any other period. The planning permission required for modern buildings means that dating them is relatively straightforward.

Finding out more

Maps are a good starting point. We hold:

  • 25 inch to 1 mile Ordnance Survey maps from 1866 onwards - these show individual buildings.
  • enclosure maps, 1780s to1830s - these can be fairly detailed - the accompanying awards (schedules) will also tell you who owned your house.
  • building plans - our main collection is the Ingram Loan including many local homes and premises.

Photographs of local streets and buildings - we hold 15,000, arranged by place.

Archive documents, including:

  • The White House, Glebe Lane, Ickenham c1900 sale catalogues - we hold over 100, arranged by place; they give detailed descriptions of houses about to go up for auction.
  • planning registers and applications - we hold some, but the council's planning department has a more complete collection.

Who lived in your house?

Again, as a general rule, there is more information for 20th century houses.

Finding out more

Lists, in all their forms, are the best place to start.

  • Street directories, from the late 19th century onwards, name the heads of many households, though earlier directories may not include the actual house number.
  • Tithe Barn Lane, Harmondsworth 1944 Electoral registers are better for specific addresses. They list each person registered to vote. However, not everyone bothered to register.
  • Rate books are the most accurate way of finding out who owned and occupied a house, though they were not compiled every year.
  • Census returns list all persons at an address. They are available from 1841 to 1911 on AncestryLibrary.com on all library computers. Many returns though are vague about actual addresses.
  • Title deeds - agreements for the sale or lease of a house. They may also describe the house itself. We hold thousands of deeds. However, they cover only a handful of Hillingdon's properties.

Royal Oak public house, Yiewsley, c1900 Check our Local Studies Catalogue for other useful maps, photographs and archives.

Books to get you started

  • 'Tracing Your House History: a guide for family historians' by Gill Blanchard
  • 'How To Research Your Local History: find out all about your house, village or town' by Patricia Brookes
  • 'Tracing The History of Your House' by Nick Barrat
  • 'Tracing Your Home's History' by Anthony Adolph


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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 15 Jun 2020 at 10:35