Researching the history of your property can be great fun especially if it looks like it is inevitable that it has a past, which might even be quite colourful; it can also be very exciting to start delving into the story of your home. After all one of the many pleasures of owning an old house is delving behind its historical façade to discover its secrets and the stories of previous occupants.

Of course, this principle can also apply to any property you are looking to purchase in the future; especially if you will need to do any kind of repairs or renovation work.

A good place to start researching the history of your property is always with local knowledge.

Many country communities for example seem to have a keen amateur historian who is usually more than happy to fill you in on those missing details. Even if they are not able to give you the whole picture on your property they can often give you a sound lead that will get the ball rolling towards gleaning more information.

Probably the most ideal facility to research the history of your property is on the web. Here you can explore local council records which are often accessible thankfully through the council’s own particular websites.

An even better way to search is by going to www.a2a.org.uk which provides access to national archives held at local record offices, libraries, universities, museums and specialist institutions across the country. The Scottish version is www.scan.org.uk

The National Monuments Record, which can be accessed through the Online Resources section on www.english-heritage.org.uk, is also very helpful if you have a listed building.

Through this facility you can track down details such as notable architectural features and social history; there are also aerial maps and old photographs on this site. Equivalent databases for Scotland and Wales can be found on www.rcahms.gov.uk and www.rcahmw.gov.uk.

Another useful place to look, if the house is ever open to the public, is www.hha.org.uk which is the website for The Historic Houses Association. It has historic details with photographs of 400 privately owned UK properties.

The DiCamillo Companion is another website that shouldn’t be overlooked. This site, whose address is www.dicamillocompanion.com, currently lists about 7,000 properties and aims to document every significant British country house ever built, whether standing or demolished. The site provides details of ownership, historical information, images, present day condition, public access details and references.

Do also take a good look at the several interesting sites available to look for British architectural history such as www.lookingatbuildings.org.uk and www.building-history.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. If you are wanting to do more detailed research, then visit the Royal Institute of British Architects site – www.architecture.com – which is a great source of information for the keen historian.

Finally never disregard the abundant riches revealed by parish records, local libraries and even old books found in nearby second-hand book shops. The latter, often compiled by an enthusiastic intellectual may contain just the clues you were looking for or, if you are very lucky, a illustration of your property showing what it looked like in days of old.