I am really looking forward to Monday’s new series of A House Through Time on BBC 2 here in the UK, IOM and Channel Isles (Monday 6 April 2019 at 9 pm).
As a family historian I am fascinated by the homes of my ancestors as well as those similar to theirs that have a story to tell. Where a house has stood for a couple of centuries or more, then many people will have lived out their lives within its walls. Relating the stories of these people can often help us to understand the times that the occupants and our own ancestors lived through. Sometimes we may even recognise parallels to our forebears lives in the stories told.
The first series of A House Through Time, based around a Grade II-listed Georgian town-house in Liverpool, captured the public imagination early last year. Local archives reported an increase in footfall in the wake of the series as people wanted to research the history of their own houses.
It is very welcome that, built on the success of the first, a second series is now to be broadcast. This time it is centred on 5 Ravensworth Terrace in Newcastle upon Tyne and the format remains the same even if the location has moved.
Historian David Olusoga (of Black and British: A Forgotten History and Civilisations) returns as the series’ presenter and the home, which has grand fireplaces and generous proportions for a house in the city centre, dates back to the Georgian era.
As with the ever popular Who Do You Think You Are? show, the programme required a great deal of research – not on a celebrity’s ancestors but concentrating on the house’s history traced through deeds and land registry documents, maps, newspaper archives and wills. There in input into the show from experts such as Professor Deborah Sugg Ryan of the University of Portsmouth, who specialises in historical interiors.
Of course it is going to be the personal stories of the inhabitants that will make this show gripping and the BBC publicity tells us that we are set to meet such figures as a lawyer bent on vengeance, a doctor caught up in a workhouse scandal and a noted marine biologist.
As with so many inner-city addresses, the desirability of Ravensworth Terrace has seen it move up and down the social scale over the years, with one time period seeing it as a street of lodging houses rather than a place for the professional classes of lawyers and doctors.
If you don’t live in the UK, IOM or the Channel Isles then to be able to watch on iPlayer if you will need a VPN. Google how to watch iPlayer from abroad to find out more.