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House Histories

House histories are usually commissioned because the owner is simply interested to know the development and history of his or her property, and may not have the time and experience to do the necessary library research. A client is rarely, if ever, a professional architectural historian, so details of building techniques, stylistic development and regional variations will be difficult to appreciate, and their house history may end up as no more than an incomplete list of those who occupied it. Such a list is only the starting point in any house history, and may be bound up with general genealogical research, which we also undertake.

Dudley North's Bill3
Glemham Hall, Suffolk

Extract from the stonemason’s bill sent to Dudley North and dated 4 April 1724, for the provision of chimneypieces in his new wing. Almost all of the original building accounts were discovered.

Forensic House Histories

In a recent case the owner of a late eighteenth century house listed grade II* applied for listed building consent to add dormer windows in order to bring the attic into use, but permission was refused. The house history commissioned from us was geared specifically to this point, and was therefore prepared more quickly and cheaply. We were able to demonstrate that the house as built did have dormers, but these were removed in the 1820s, and when this was made known to the local authority not only was permission granted for their reinstatement, but a grant was offered. Any kind of listed building consent application to alter a building is much more likely to succeed if the client can produce a supporting report compiled by a consultant approved by English Heritage.

The degree of originality of any feature in a listed building is of fundamental importance when consent is required for restoration or alteration, and local authorities will tend to refuse permission unless proof can be presented of the probity of the works.

Old Manse, Dirleton
Old Manse, Dirleton, East Lothian

A simple house history without planning implications. Research indicated that it is probably the oldest surviving example of the traditional Scottish Manse plan, of 1707-8. The original build is centred on the left-hand porch.