Just how old is your house?

I am currently working my way through five presentations in ten days. The first of two house history sessions was preceded by a call from an insurance company trying to sell me house insurance. It appeared that I had to tell them how old my house was in order for them to provide me with a quote I didn’t want. I explained that it was somewhere between 250 and 400 years old. ‘You will have to be more precise than that Mrs Few’, I was told. Curious as to how I was expected to achieve such levels of precision I persisted with the call, despite the inclination to hang up. I offered the caller the opportunity to explain how I could establish when my house was built. It appears that if the questioner repeats the same question often enough, I will magically suddenly know the answer. I pointed out that I was about to teach a course on house history and if I didn’t know I wasn’t sure who would. I was again asked to provide a year in which my house was built. ‘Shall we say 250 years old?’, he says. ‘You can’, I respond ‘but you could be 150 years out.’ At this point the caller gives up and terminates the call.

Lurching from sessions on life in 1851 to tracing the history of your house, interspersed with travelling through the streets of London at the time of the Great Fire is great fun if a little tiring. I am also attempting to transcribe some C17th admiralty documents. This is done on screen and it is surprising how much more difficult this is than transcribing from a printed document. Next on the list, ‘How our Ancestors would have Died’ for Somerset and Dorset Family History Society Annual Conference on Saturday.

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