February 2020 – House histories and map resources

Ships Timbers, Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk
Ships Timbers, Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk

I have spent the first few weeks of this year working on house histories in Norfolk, Essex, London and Kent as well as various family histories. The house histories have ranged from a grand fifteenth century manor house, and sixteenth century pub, another pub, which was once the parish poor house, and a one bedroomed cottage.

Discovering details of the lives about the people who lived in these properties is truly fascination. One character who owned the Essex house was a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth I. As well as being an independent woman who carried on her first husband’s business after his death, and actively assisted her second husband’s rise in political and court circles, Joan was a generous benefactress to a wide range of charities. Another was Robert Kettle, who served in Admiral Lord Nelson’s navy and fought at the Battle of Camperdown in 1797. After settling back home in Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk, he and his wife brought up a large family in their tiny rented cottage.

You can read more about the one bedroomed cottage and some other houses in my latest house history article Discover Your Ancestors.

My first lectures this year were half day courses on My Ancestor Came from Suffolk and My Ancestor Came from Norfolk at the Society of Genealogists. I am also enjoying reconnecting with some of my online Writing Your Family History students who are taking Module 2. I will be running Module 1 again starting on 13 March 2020. This is 12 week course that guides participants through the process of bringing their ancestors to life. The aim is to produce an entertaining family history that other people want to read. The lessons focus on enabling students to choose the most suitable format for them, decide what to include and how, and find and add relevant context. Students are encouraged to start writing from week one, and receive personalised in-depth throughout. For more details see my dedicated online writing course site.

I will also be giving the following presentations in March.

07mar10:3013:00My ancestors’ life: Putting your family history in contextAt Bury St. Edmunds Record Office.

12janAll DayBehind the Scenes Working for Who Do You Think You Are?At Broadway House, Felixstowe.


Tips of the Month

Historic maps enable us to catch a glimpse of the places our ancestors lived and worked in. They are also an invaluable source for house history research. Here are three of my ‘Go To’ websites:

British History Online hosts several map collections free, such as the 1561 Agas Map of London, and various ordnance surveys: www.british-history.ac.uk/map.aspx

The National Library of Scotland has an impressive collection of ordnance survey maps for the UK available free, with the option to buy higher resolution copies: https://maps.nls.uk

The Genealogist website’s collection is the most comprehensive of the three main commercial family history websites. They host map and land records collections, including tithe maps and ordnance surveys, as well as a useful Map Explorer tool: www.thegenealogist.co.uk.