Courses and Talks
As a qualified teacher of adults, I have given talks and run courses and workshops on family history and house history research at all levels from beginners to post-graduate locally, nationally and online.
These include at Bury St. Edmunds Record Office, The Genealogy Show at the NEC, the Family Tree Live show; the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show; The Family History Shows; the Society of Genealogists; Adult Education services; a two year post-graduate course at the University of East Anglia; Heritage Open Days; the National Writers’ Centre; the National Centre for Writing; the Families in British India Society (FIBIS); the Guild of One Name Studies, the Society for One Place Studies; the National Trust; Deepings Literary Festival and numerous family and local history societies, museums and libraries.
I played a key role in developing the genealogy certificate programme offered by an online course provider, and taught for them for ten years. Many of my courses are attended by librarians, record office staff and people aiming to set up as professional researchers. In the past I also taught adults on Access, A Level, GCSE and NVQ courses in history and humanities related subjects through the Adult Education and HM Prison Services. Whilst working for the latter I received Home Office security clearance. I have also been a visiting lecturer on archival research for the MA in Biography and Creative Non Fiction at UEA.
I am recording some of my talks to make available online, if you would be interested in hearing one of them please drop me an email to say which one you would like me to record first. Below are the titles of the classroom talks I have delivered, click on each one to find out more about its content.
Learn what goes on behind the scenes as a researcher for the popular television show. With particular focus on my research for various episodes, plus appearances on the Jonnie Peacock and Mary Berry shows, and another to be announced.
Were your ancestors’ the victims or perpetrators of crime? Were they involved in neighbourhood disputes that ended up in court, or pursued through the legal system over theft, fraud, bastardy, poaching or murder? Discover the wealth of documents available locally, nationally and online to find out more. Learn how the legal system in England and Wales developed and the difference between Petty Sessions, Quarter Sessions and Assize Courts.
Where to find records, locate monumental inscriptions and graves and how to use them in family history, local history, and house history research. Discover the historical, architectural, and environmental importance of churchyards, cemeteries and cemetery chapels.
Discover the history of parish registers from 1538, what changes have occurred over time and why. Learn where to locate records and how to use them effectively in family history and local history research. Including tips on reading old handwriting and understanding Latin and abbreviated entries.
The story and research behind my biography of a scandal that occurred in a north Norfolk village in 1836. Discover how and why the lord of the manor challenged the curate to a duel, the records used to uncover more, and how such resources can be used to provide a lens by which to examine society at the time.
The story behind my biography of John Lawson (1615-1665), a forgotten hero of the English civil war: He was an ordinary merchant seaman who navigated his way to become a Vice-Admiral; surviving political intrigue, exile, and imprisonment. Despite his republican beliefs he helped ensure the restoration of the monarchy, for which he was knighted. Lawson’s subsequent actions, including establishing a defensive harbour in Tangier, locates his tale within the wider context of England’s transformation into a global political and economic power.
Discover the story behind my forthcoming biography of Mabel Clarkson, who joined the Norwich Labour Party in 1925. A woman who has been relatively neglected in historical accounts despite becoming one of the first women councillors in the country, the first female sheriff and a Lady Lord Mayor of Norwich. From a privileged background Mabel devoted her life working to improve conditions for the poor by campaigning for free school meals for needy children, a living wage, and pensions, as well as for universal suffrage.
Learn how to further your family history, house history and local history research by using maps. Discover where to find them and what can be uncovered by looking at estate; enclosure; insurance, tithe; ordnance survey; canal; railway and road maps; county, town and city maps and plans, bomb damage surveys, social surveys, poverty maps, and more.
Discover the research and story behind my study of the life of a local teacher from a working class background whose suffragette activism led to her being imprisoned under the Cat and Mouse Act. Learn more about the long fight for female suffrage and the sources used to find out more.
Discover the main Norfolk resources for family history online, in local archives and elsewhere with the author of ‘Tracing Your Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk Ancestors’ (Pen & Sword Books, 2nd Edition, 2019). Learn which records can also be used for house history and local history research.
Discover the main Suffolk resources online, in local archives and elsewhere with the author of ‘Tracing Your Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk Ancestors (Pen & Sword Books, 2nd Edition, 2019). Learn which records can also be used for house history and local history research.
Take a journey into your ancestors lives through a range of sources that look at food, clothing, drink, work, travel, courting, health, entertainment, childcare, education, and more. Considering questions such as: What did your ancestors eat, how did they travel; what did they do for entertainment; how did they manage financially when there was a bad harvest, or they lost their jobs; how did women prepare for childbirth; what happened when they were ill or had no money; where did they live and what were their homes like?
Learn about a selection of notable Norfolk women from the well-known to those who deserve wider recognition. These snapshots include Edith Cavell, who was executed during WWI for helping allied prisoners of war escape; Emma of Norwich, who co-organised a rebellion and defended the castle during a siege lasting several months; the explorer and scientist Margaret Fountaine; the writer and dramatist Amelia Opie; social reformer Elizabeth Fry; political economist and journalist Harriet Martineau, and Margaret Paston, the matriarch of the famous 15th century letter writing family.
Based on the research for my forthcoming book on the impact of Huguenots on British culture, social, life, arts, politics and more. Discover the research and tales behind a story of religious persecution, politics, endurance, assimilation, and integration featuring one of the largest refugee communities in the British Isles.
Based on the research for my book of the same title published by Pen and Sword Books in 2020. As well as the campaign for votes for women I look at the broader context of Norwich women’s lives such as education, health, work, marriage, and relationships, and how women’s experiences, struggles and campaigns have shaped our world today.
Discover the story behind my forthcoming biography of Mary Magdalen Walpole and Elizabeth Leheup (née Lombard). Daughters of Huguenot refugees, their lives shed a light on late 17th and 18th century life, religious persecution, social class, politics, money, and love. Through their marriages and family connections these two women were at the heart of eighteenth-century national and international political and social affairs.
Taking its nickname from the Chancellor of the time, the Domesday Survey, or the Inland Revenue Valuation Office Survey as it was officially known, is a phenomenally useful resource for house historians, social historians, and genealogists. Discover where to find records and how to use this as a genealogical and local history tool.
Discover where to find records and how to use the National Farm Survey as a resource for house history, family history, and local history research.
Discover where to find records and how to use the Inland Revenue Valuation Survey as a house history, local history, and family history research tool. Compare and contrast with the National Farm Survey taken during WWII.
On 4 April 1817, the boiler on the Telegraph steam packet blew up near Foundry Bridge in Norwich as the barge was transporting twenty-two passengers along the River Yare. Five men, three women and one child lost their lives. In the days following a public appeal raised £350 to alleviate the suffering of the survivors and families of those killed. This talk explores my discoveries and research into this tragic event, the people on board and the long term impact, including a parliamentary enquiry and the introduction of safety measures for steam engines.
Discover the importance of the parish – the unit of local government into the 19th century – in the lives of our ancestors. Find out how the parish worked, what records were generated and where to find them. Learn how to use such records in family history, local history and house history research.
What happened to the poor before union workhouses came into force in 1834? Discover what local parish records can tell us about provision for the poor and those who maintained them. Learn how to use parish chest records for family history, local history and house research, as well as where to find them locally, nationally and online.
Learn how people ended up in the workhouse; what life was like inside; who paid for the system; attitudes to the poor. Discover where and how to find workhouse records and understand how to use them effectively in your research.
Learn how to use these essential stepping stones into the past to explore your house history, local history, and family history. Discover where your ancestors lived and worked. Find out who created the records, the historical context, what people and types of information were included, as well as where to find tithe and enclosure records locally, nationally and online.
Discover the main resources to trace the history of your own home and where your ancestors lived with leading UK house historian and the author of ‘Tracing Your House History’ (Pen and Sword Books). Find out which sources to use to place a building in time and place, uncover who lived in it, what else it was used for and when it was built.
Discover the main family history resources online and in local archives for Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex with leading genealogist and the author of ‘Tracing Your Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk Ancestors (Pen & Sword Books, 2nd Edition 2019). Discover which resources can also be used for house history and local history research.
Based on my book of the same topic due out in 2021, this talk presents practical tips on tracing ancestors in the Stuart and Tudor periods from 1485 to 1714. Discover how historical changes affected record keeping, what types of records that exist, how to use them effectively and where to find them locally, nationally, and online.
Discover how directories and gazetteers can be used by family historians, house historians and local historians to find people; track movements; discover the owners of land and property; uncover details about people in trade, parish histories and more. Learn how to use directories and gazetteers in conjunction with other sources to develop research skills and to learn more about the areas our ancestors lived and worked in and our own homes.
Learn about the history of the census return in Britain, and related sources for counting people and uncovering the history of a place. Discover the changes in information to be included and why some people might not be found, as well as how census returns can be used to find out more about your ancestor’s lives, researching a house history, and discovering social changes over time. Including effective search tips and strategies.
Includes an overview of the history of marriage in England and Wales. Discover why and how the law changed over time and the records that have been generated. Learn how to use marriage records effectively in your research, and where to find them locally, nationally, and online.
Discover secrets, scandals, family relationships, the owners and occupiers of land and property, political and religious beliefs and attitudes, and insights into how people lived and contemporary attitudes through wills, administrations, and other probate records. Learn about the legal and political changes that have affected the keeping and content of wills and administrations, and how to use them for family history, house history and local history research. Including where to locate probate records and tips on reading old handwriting and understanding terminology.
Discover the sources for finding out about the women who fought for the right to vote and their supporters. This is put into its historical context and includes case studies of some of the women from all levels of society who helped changed the world.
Discover how to find details of women’s working lives and add context to family and local histories. Including some case studies.
Learn how to bring the story of your ancestors to life. How to stop researching and start writing, choose a format and what to include. What to do with family stories, missing pieces, and anomalies. Discover how to bring life to the page with the author of Writing Your Family History (Pen and Sword, 2016) and experienced writing tutor and biographer.
Comments from some of my clients
“Thank you for your Poor Law course Gill. I have found it to be totally professionally run (I’m a bit of a critic of training programs, can’t help myself). I shall be doing some more courses, this has been my third, and I like the discipline of assessments.”
Margaret Moxon. Australia
“Having attended one of Gill’s ‘further steps’ family history courses, I was most impressed with her thorough knowledge of the subject and preparation before each class and her encouragement during those classes to explore every aspect of our research. I know we all eagerly looked forward to her classes each week.”
Alison Brown. North Norfolk
“I have very much enjoyed classes that I have attended. They were relaxed, enjoyable and very informative, with each session being flexible enough to provide for the needs of that group.”
Sandra Hopewell. South Norfolk
“I attended classes at The Family History Centre, where Gill Blanchard was the tutor, her knowledge and experience of family history shone through, along with an enthusiasm which was infectious, it helped me to get involved, researching and thoroughly enjoying (probably forever) this fascinating subject.”
Phyll Clements, Norfolk
“I have been on two courses run by Gill, one online and one in a more traditional classroom setting. The online course relating to the Poor and the Poor Law in the 19th Century, was thorough in content and expertise. In true teacher fashion Gill leads her students towards the answers, while ensuring they experience the research process and reach their own conclusions. The more traditional post-graduate course was equally thorough and professional. Gill is an excellent teacher who is generous with her support, advice and expertise. Any course run by her will guarantee an enjoyable experience and will effectively develop your own skills. If you see one advertised, don’t hesitate but sign up immediately before all the places are gone.”
Liz Rastrick, Suffolk
“Gill is a wonderful teacher – anyone interested in past times, their ancestry and local history can’t do better than take advantage of her wide knowledge and enthusiasm.”
Roger Polhill, Norfolk