House history can be interesting and exciting, however it is not always very easy and can be very time consuming. It is often not possible to date buildings accurately.
It is worth checking your title deeds, if you have access to them, to see if they give any further clarification of a date.
If not, start with the present and working backwards. In general sources will either tell you about the building (for example showing its outline on a plan) or the people who owned the property or lived there.
Someone may have already written up something on the local area. Check our online catalogue for details of our books.
Ordnance Survey Maps – 25 inch to the mile maps, 1970s back to the 1880s, show incredible detail and are available on microfiche.
Tithe Maps dating from c1836-1850 show fields and properties and are on microfiche. The ‘apportionments’, which go with the map, list owners and occupiers. These are on microfilm. Finding the owner of the land is important if you want to go on to find other records. We also have printed field name maps which are based on the tithe maps and much easier to use.
Land valuation maps and books show land owners and occupiers in 1910.
Much more about finding and using different maps is on our Shropshire Maps website.
Census returns and directories
Census returns for the years 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 will show occupiers of each house on census night. The census returns do not always give house numbers or names, but you should be able to work out which is your house from the route that the census enumerator took. Returns are searchable on FindMyPast and Ancestry, which we have free access to here, and also on microfiche 1841-1901.
Trade directories and street directories will list some house holders. Find out more about these on our printable source guides page.
Photographs and postcards
Photographs and postcards (PH and PC) arranged by parish. Many are on our online catalogue.
Original documents in the Search Room
To look at original material, you will need to register to use our Search Room.
Original sources include:
- Enclosure awards (Q/E) which show divisions of land, mostly 1800s) – see index cards
- Sales catalogues (SC) – index cards available arranged by parish
- Estate records including maps and rentals – see index cards for maps
- Manorial records
- Building control plans (DA) for properties in some local authorities (NB these are held off site and need to be requested in advance).
- Records of taxation – check our guide for more information
- Rate books may be found in parish records or records of boroughs and district authorities (held offsite)
- Deposited plans may show properties affected by proposed railways, canals,bridges and roads.
- Papers of some auctioneers such as Nock Deighton (4752), Norton and Co. (4924) or in the Eyton collection (665)
- Electoral registers showing those regsitered to vote, mostly 1919 onwards
- Poll books for the boroughs showing those entitled to vote
If you house was/is a pub, vicarage or school then there are likely to be more specific sources. If your house was in one of the boroughs – especially Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth, Ludlow or Much Wenlock – records are likely to be more extensive.
More information on some of these sources is on our printable source guides page.
A house history guide which gives much more detail on these sources is available from our shop and we regularly hold courses to help you begin your house history research.
If you are not able to visit Shropshire Archives for yourself, then we have a Research Service.
Records held elsewhere
Shropshire’s Historic Environment Record (HER) is a wonderful source of information about the historic environment of the county – archaeological sites, finds and features, historic buildings, structures and landscapes.