New College of the Humanities

Private Cases

Michael Leech employs a house detective to uncover the history of his own property.

A letter plopped through my postbox not long ago which sounded intriguing. For a fee, a private researcher could give me a history of the house I live in, an elderly London building converted after the war into offices and flats: architectural background, what it was used for, who might have lived here through the ages. It is a fascinating and curiously flattering idea - we all like to think our residences are unusual and some must hold many secrets. So what does this new breed of history specialist do and how do they operate?


AII sorts of small firms and partnerships have leapt up in Britain specializing in histories of domestic buildings. Datestone is one such organization based in Lancashire and currently working on mostly local projects. Nigel Morgan visited my central London home to give me an exploratory session to illustrate what this new organization can do. I knew that the house is an old one and has a protected Grade 2 facade dating from the time the street was replanned at the very end of the Georgian era. It is also timber framed which might just indicate that it is older than indicated by its classical front.


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