This page is intended to give homeowners a headstart in finding out information about their home and the local area. The intention with the project is that we all share our findings informally (by emailing round the group) or more formally through the web tools we are building.
- 1 General History Free/Official Sites
- 2 Good For The Local Area
- 3 Wartime & Military
- 4 Photo Libraries
- 4.1 Britain From Above
- 4.2 Cambridge Air Photos
- 4.3 Mary Evans Picture Library
- 4.4 Francis Frith Picture Library
- 4.5 Images of England
- 4.6 The Tuck Postcard Database
- 4.7 Old Postcards
- 4.8 TimePix
- 4.9 History in Pictures
- 4.10 British Telecom Archive
- 4.11 Science & Society
- 4.12 Thames Water Archive
- 4.13 RIBA Architectural Archive
- 4.14 History Pin
- 4.15 War Office Collection / IWM
- 4.16 Collage
- 4.17 ArtUK
- 5 Commercial Sites
- 6 Historical & Useful Maps
- 6.1 Ordnance Survey
- 6.2 National Library of Scotland
- 6.3 Land Valuation Maps
- 6.4 Tithe Maps At The National Archive
- 6.5 the Genealogist
- 6.6 Vision Of Britain Through Time
- 6.7 KnowYourPlace West
- 6.8 British Atlas Collection on Archive.org
- 6.9 Charles Booth's Poverty Map of London
- 6.10 Old Maps Ltd
- 6.11 Cassini Maps
- 7 Books We Loved
- 8 Other Useful Web Sites
- 9 See Also In Chimni
- 10 External Links
- 11 References
General History Free/Official Sites
The National Archives at Kew is the largest archive in the United Kingdom and have lots of online archives and tools to help people search
The Your Archives: ‘Historical Streets Project’ is an exciting and accessible resource that enables everyone to share and reuse historical information in a way that has not previously been possible. They have a good street level search
For House Historians, the Land Registry is a great starting point for ownership information. They also have a useful blog to help you establish the age of your house
You can also search the Land Registry for your homes official Title Register with a list of owners and potentially get a copy of your deeds (if they have been lodged with the system). There is a small fee to pay but you can click on the link below to see what documents are available:
This is a great place to check if your house is listed or to check for historic buildings in the surrounding area.
British History Online
British History Online (BHO) is an online library of key printed sources for the history of Britain and Ireland. It includes online copies of documents from medieval to twentieth century which are easily searchable and browsable online. It brings together material for British history from the collections of libraries, archives, museums and academics.
Victoria County History
Founded in 1899 and originally dedicated to Queen Victoria, the VCH is an encyclopaedic record of England's places and people from earliest times to the present day. Based at the Institute of Historical Research in the University of London since 1933, the VCH is written by historians working in counties across England and is without doubt the greatest publishing project in English local history
Connected Histories is a great website created by a group of universities to help online history research. It was created by a partnership between the University of Hertfordshire, the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, and the University of Sheffield. They have used lots of clever computer intelligence wizardry to search and cross-reference a wide selection of obscure online sources.
Good For The Local Area
A general understanding of the area can be useful when you're researching the history of an individual house. Whether it's in a village, a suburb, or a city, you can find such information through published resources such as:
Local Libraries & Archives
People sometimes forget this most traditional of local resources They are particularly good for holding local newspapers and copies of historical Electoral Registers. These were compiled annually from 1832 (but don’t forget that women don't appear on the register until 1918 and that the voting age wasn't lowered to 18 until 1969.
Local History & Civic Societies
These tend to be very local and therefore it is best to look up your local societies on a national list such as:
If you are in London then the London Forum can provide more detailed information
London Metropolitan Archives
The London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) is the archive repository for the Greater London area. It holds documents and books covering all aspects of life in London 1067 to the present day.
Survey Of London
An online archive managed by the Bartlett School of Architecture, the Survey of London publishes its own research research into the development of London and produces detailed architectural and topographical studies about the capital’s built environment.
Wartime & Military
A Street Near You
A website which maps all the the war dead from WWI giving an amazing resource of local stories and photos.
Britain From Above
The 'Britain from Above' series contains images from the Aerofilms collection, a unique aerial photographic archive of international importance. dating from 1919 to 2006. It was created by Aerofilms Ltd, a pioneering air survey company set up in 1919 by First World War veterans Francis Lewis Wills and Claude Grahame-White.
Cambridge Air Photos
The Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photography (CUCAP) is the result of airborne survey campaigns started in 1947 by the pioneering JK St Joseph. Since then the collection has grown to almost 500,000 images of obliques and verticals in black and white, colour and infra-red. Virtually the whole of Britain has been covered, with the obliques depicting a wide variety of landscapes and features and the verticals being of survey quality, can be used in mapping projects.
Mary Evans Picture Library
The Mary Evans Picture Library is a 50 year old independent and family-owned historical picture library. It is a unique resource and very friendly towards volunteer and public sector projects.
Francis Frith Picture Library
The Francis Frith Library is magnificent archive of evocative historical photographs that the founder, Francis Frith and the Frith company photographers created between 1860 and 1970. It is a unique and unrivalled record of the changing face of Britain over 110 years of amazing physical and social transformation.
Images of England
Historic England have a searchable online archive of old pictures called ‘Images of England’ covering England’s listed buildings, recorded at the turn of the 21st century. You can view over 300,000 images of England’s built heritage from lamp posts to lavatories, phone boxes to toll booths, mile stones to gravestones, as well as thousands of bridges, historic houses and churche
The Tuck Postcard Database
Raphael Tuck & Sons was the world's largest postcard publisher. The images used span the entire globe and offer a unique visual history of life in the late 19th and early 20th century. During the London Blitz of the Second World War the company headquarters was destroyed including greeting cards, records and originals images. TuckDB is an attempt to recreate those lost records. Every card in this database was published by the now defunct Raphael Tuck & Sons. Tuck DB Postcards is a free database of antique postcards. It is non-profit and does not sell postcards.
A commercial site selling original post cards.
Their images include street scenes, landscapes and portraits from the earliest days of photography until 50 years ago. They come from the original print photographs, negatives, slides or real-photo postcards and are often donated, rescued or unlocked here for the first time.
History in Pictures
History in Pictures is a database of over 10,000 images recording themed, social and topographical street views and events of many British & Worldwide cities, towns and villages.
British Telecom Archive
Science & Society
The picture archives of the Science Museum Group which includes the Science Museum, the Railway Museum and the Science & Media Museum.
Thames Water Archive
RIBA Architectural Archive
A site that allows users to upload single images or sets to a map, so that people can find them by searching by location.
War Office Collection / IWM
The London Picture Archive - Over 250,000 images of London from the collections at London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery City of London 11092
Art UK is the online home for every public art collection in the UKand a collaboration between over 3,200 British institutions. It allows a user to search by location to discover art works by area.
The commercial sites are very useful as they have brought together many of the primary sources listed above and have built some useful tools to help you search them:
British Newspaper Archive
A partnership between the British Library and findmypast to digitise up to 40 million newspaper pages from the British Library's vast collection over the next 10 years.
Ancestor Homes has an extensive private collection of digitised property deeds and associated documents that relate to properties throughout England & Wales dating back to the 1660s.
Records on TheGenealogist include digitised copies of the tithe maps and apportionments held at The National Archives which can be searched by name and place. The also have a list everyone who owned more than one acre of land in England (except London), Wales, Scotland and Ireland; plus the the Returns of the Owners of Land (1873–1876) which list everyone who owned more than one acre of land in England (except London), Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
Find My Past
We have a project account with this site. If you would like to use it, please contact email@example.com. This site is particularly good at Census information and they have recently created an easy to use way to searc the 1911 Census. These census records show the name, age, place of birth, marital status and occupation of every resident in every home, as well as their relationship to the head of the household.
Similiar to FindMyPast, Ancestry.co.uk also contains access to census material, and personal histories.
Historical & Useful Maps
As well as new maps the Ordnance Survey also provides historical maps to support projects like house histories. https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/support/historical-maps.html
National Library of Scotland
The National Library of Scotland have been digitising old ordnance Survey Maps for the whole of the UK, particularly those that are out of copywrite and therefore free, enabling homeowners to find and download the relevant maps for their local area.
Land Valuation Maps
In the National Archive you can find the the 1910 Valuation Office Survey which mapped all the properties in the country and recorded details of their owners, occupiers and addresses. However
Tithe Maps At The National Archive
Many houses, particularly those built on church land, retain some obligation to make a payment to the church. Maps covering this information, usually date from 1836 to 1850 and were created to help administer tithing payments. They show land boundaries, names of tenants or owners, and types of usage. The original maps can be found at the National Archives, and you may find copies at your local record office.
A commercial site offering paid access to a range of digitised maps Including UK tithe maps.
Vision Of Britain Through Time
A Vision of Britain through Time brings together historical surveys of Britain to create a record of how the country and its localities have changed. It was created by Humphrey Southall and the Great Britain Historical Geographical Information System (GIS) Project, based in the Department of Geography of the University of Portsmouth.
Know Your Place is a digital heritage mapping resource to help you to explore six counties in the West of England through historic maps, collections and linked information. It covers Bristol and the six surrounding counties of Bath & North East Somerset, Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. More recently the county of Devon has been added.
British Atlas Collection on Archive.org
Archive.org is a free US resource with an extensive collection of ancient and recent British atlases. These include the handcoloured 'Cary's New and Correct English Atlas' "published as the act directs Jany. 1st. 1793."
Charles Booth's Poverty Map of London
Clearly limited to those interested in London, the Charles Booth site, hosted by the LSE enables you to search the catalogue of over 450 original notebooks from the Inquiry into Life and Labour in London (1886-1903), view 41 digitised notebooks and explore the London poverty maps
Old Maps Ltd
A commercial site selling old maps
Search, buy and download digital versions of the original Registration District maps from the 1871 census on the Cassini Maps website.
Books We Loved
Melanie Backe-Hansen House Histories: The Secrets Behind Your Front Door, 2011
Other Useful Web Sites
See Also In Chimni
Chimni Wiki Page: House History Books
Chimni Wiki Page: House History Projects
Chimni Wiki Page: House History Categorisation
Chimni Wiki Page: Historic House Museums