Two House Historians Through Time

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Two House Historians Through Time: Melanie Backe-Hansen in conversation with Cathy Soughton Buckinghamshire History Festival

All around the country people are itching to learn about the history of their home.  This is driven by the success of the BBC series 'A House Through Time', which takes a property and over four episodes, explores the lives of some of the people who lived there.  Historian Melanie Backe-Hansen is consultant to that show, and has co-written the book of the series with its presenter David Olusoga.  In this podcast Melanie chats to fellow house historian Cathy Soughton, about the show, how she got into this line of research, and some of her favourite houses.   

Melanie Backe-Hansen is an independent historian, writer, and speaker, specialising in the social history of houses across the United Kingdom. Melanie is a research consultant for the popular BBC programme, A House Through Time, and to accompany the series Melanie has co-written the new book, A House Through Time, with historian David Olusoga, released in paperback on 2 September 2021. She was series historical consultant and on-screen expert for Phil Spencer’s History of Britain in 100 Homes (More4). She is also the author of House Histories: The Secrets Behind Your Front Door and Historic Streets and Squares: The Secrets on Your Doorstep.

The main focus of Melanie’s work involves original research for homeowners across the country to provide research reports and bespoke house history books. Melanie regularly contributes to national media and appears on television, radio, and online media. She is also a regular speaker at events and festivals, as well as universities and history groups. Melanie is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Member of the Royal Historical Society, and an Honorary Teaching Fellow at the University of Dundee.

More details of Mel’s book: A House Through Time

Cathy is a qualified architectural historian and accredited genealogist who has specialised in carrying out house histories for both private homeowners and commercial clients for nearly 20 years.

Living in Buckinghamshire, Cathy has researched the history of numerous houses in the county as well as many further afield. Local homes researched have been as diverse as medieval manor houses, old pubs, converted schools, farmhouses and Georgian townhouses. She is an expert on Rothschild estate buildings in the Vale of Aylesbury having studied them in depth for the dissertation for her architectural history qualification. Each history undertaken is bespoke and tailored to a client’s specific requirements. As well as carrying out documentary research on the history of a property, Cathy can also provide a structural overview. The history can be produced in different formats and she also works with a professional photographer to provide beautifully illustrated house history books.

Cathy has written articles for various publications, given regular talks and provides ‘Ask the Expert’ advice on house histories at Family History shows. She is a Member and the current Secretary of AGRA, the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives which maintains and promotes high standards of professional conduct in the field of genealogy and historical research.

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