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Researching Buildings

A Guide to researching and writing a building report

Mill Road History Society has created a guide to help you get started with researching a building and turning that research into a report for Capturing Cambridge.

Read the full guide (PDF)

Researching a historical building or site can be a very rewarding experience. Whether it is your own house, a shop, church, library, cinema or the site of a building that once stood, you are likely to uncover a wealth of fascinating and sometimes surprising material. While some of this material may reveal when and why a building was built and who lived there at different times, other material will help to put it into a social and historical context.

By researching a single building you will discover much more than the history of that building as a physical entity – you will appreciate how the locality has evolved and changed over time. You may discover fascinating stories of past occupants. The building, which you may have passed in the street many times before, takes on a new meaning as you learn about its beginnings: what was there before it was built; why it was built and when; what it may have looked like; what else was around it when it was built; who lived there; stories about past occupants; when and how it was modified over time; how the locality has changed. During your research it is likely that your investigations will touch on neighbouring buildings which may well provide inspiration for future research. You may also uncover clues and information which may help other researchers investigating buildings in the same locality.

Researching and writing a building or site report for the first time may seem quite a daunting prospect, but this guide attempts to show you the resources that are available and how to make the best use of them. It will guide you through the processes of information-gathering from a variety of sources, and assembling, organizing and writing your report.


The PDF copy of the guide (linked below) was updated on the 9 April 2017 to version 2.

Further Information


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