Building Beginnings

Revisiting the age of your house

I’ve said before that one of the most common questions we get asked is ‘How old is my house?’ and it’s no wonder. Age, when it comes to houses, appears to be an important characteristic, at least in terms of their attraction. Older, it seems, is better. Why is this? Here are a few more reasons.

One might be the feeling of wonder you get in a house that’s several centuries older than you are. Longevity in buildings begs the question of how many generations have lived there before you and, from there, who they were, how they would have dressed, how they lived, and what happened while they were there. Did doublet and hose, cloak and dagger, crinolines and mob caps hang in the wardrobe? Were there leather tankards, silver plate and wooden trenchers on the sideboard? Were the walls covered in tapestries, Georgian stripe, or woodchip? ‘If walls could talk’ might be a cliché but if anyone could crack it, they would certainly have a money spinner on their hands.

Another consideration is the quantity and variety of period features remaining in the property that pepper estate agents’ details: inglenook fireplaces, bread ovens and the ubiquitous ‘wealth of exposed beams’ seem to score highly, while extra points would undoubtedly be awarded to a house with a priesthole, secret passage, or even crenellations.

But perhaps one of the most compelling reasons is a kind of one-upmanship in house age terms, a kind of ‘my house is older than your house’ discussion around the period dining table. Knowing that your house has stood through two World Wars is one thing, realising that stagecoaches rattled past your door racing the mail to the next town is quite another. Throw in the possibility that your house garrisoned soldiers during the English Civil wars and you have won the day before the dessert is brought out.

Discovering the age of your house could be worth a visit after all.

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