Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ellen Leslie: A Go-to Resource for Old House and Listed Property Owners


Ellen Leslie's work takes her all over the UK, researching all kinds of old houses and halls...from medieval manors to Victorian mansions. She studied at the Architectural Association’s School of Architecture, attaining a Postgraduate Diploma in the Conservation of Historic Buildings.

As a regular contributor to Period Homes and Interiors and in other places such as the Country Life property blog,  Ellen has lectured at the Architectural Association’s School of Architecture and regularly gives talks and workshops on architectural history and house histories to interested groups and associations. She is also currently the house history expert on the UKTV Home website to accompany series 2 of Nick Knowles' Original Features

I recently came across a couple of Ellen's articles on - which is a great place to go for information on period and listed building projects. The first, From Alien Priory to Manor House – Uncovering 800 years of History - is an insightful article that give you a snapshot of what is involved in historic building research. It also demonstrates that even the history of what may be described as a rather "modest" house can be full of surprises and interesting details about the people who have lived in them.
"The untold story of this Grade II* building was spread far and wide in the form of maps, deeds, wills, letters, drawings and photographs. My research covered local archives, government records and libraries, as well as the Royal Institute of British Architects, the British Library, the National Archives and the National Monuments Record in Swindon. Researching this house also took me to the archive of Trinity College Cambridge.  Using all these sources, combined with a personal inspection of the building, I was able to bring together the full story of The Manor House. This included who had lived there and how the building has evolved over the centuries."
The second of Ellen's articles, Repair, Alteration and Maintenance: Reasons to Know the History of Your House - sets aside the notion that knowing the history of an old house is simply satisying our curiousity about the past, or indulging some hope that a secret or scandal may be uncovered. As she points out:
"If you own a listed building or you live in a conservation area, there are very real and structural reasons for knowing not only who lived there but when it was built and by whom; knowing what it is built of, where it has been altered, how the building was used. All these elements together define the historic significance of the building and knowing these facts can help you, as the owner, particularly when it comes to repair, alteration and maintenance."
Aside from research needed for planning applications, uncovering information about the construction materials used and how the house has been altered or repaired over the course of many years can prevent unexpected repaier or renovation surprises further down the road. Altogether, you'll find much practical advice and guidance - be sure to check these articles out.

To find out more about Ellen and her work, go to

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