Researching Camden's buildings

You may be able to discover:

  • something of the history of the actual building
  • probably some evidence of what stood on the site before the present building
  • most certainly information about some of the occupiers and owners of the house

You may find it helpful to read about the general history of the area before you begin research. You may find that some work has already been done on the street and that we hold an article, news cuttings or sales catalogues relating to the site.

The centre has a number of catalogues and indexes that you should search to find any useful information or published material. If you hold any deeds for the property or know of their whereabouts you should check these as they may list some of the previous owners and often include a plan of the site.

Planning and listed buildings

The planning section of this website has lots of information about the built heritage of the borough and all listed buildings in Camden.

Sources of information

This section gives brief information about the types of sources that can be used to trace the history of a property using the resources of the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre.

Street names and numbers

Street names and numbers have usually changed, so it is essential that you work backwards through the various sources listed below from the present.

Of particular use in identifying when streets have changed their names and been renumbered are the London County Council's volumes: Names of streets and places (1900), (1912), (1929), (1955), with a supplement to 1966.

Maps

Maps can be used to establish the previous use of site and the approximate date of construction or rebuilding:

  • London - reproductions of maps from 16th century.
  • Parish maps - Hampstead from 1762. Holborn from 1720. St Giles from 1720. St Pancras from 1801.
  • Large scale Ordnance Survey maps from 1869.
  • Goad insurance maps from 1886.

Plans

Most series of plans held by the Centre are unindexed. 19th-century orders and plans for renumbering and naming of streets in the Holborn area are indexed.

Plans of drainage in properties from 1856 are held on microfiche.

Directories

Directories are especially useful for tracing the commercial use of a building. Local directories have better lists of residents.

London Directories from mid-18th century. Most useful for the southern part of the borough.

Local Directories for Camden and Kentish Towns, Hampstead, Highgate, Kilburn and St Pancras for various dates from mid-19th century.

Electoral registers

Hampstead 1899 onwards, Holborn 1893 onwards, St Pancras 1866 onwards.

Electoral registers show everyone registered to vote at parliamentary or local elections. This was based on a property qualification until 1918 when all men over 21 and most women over 30 were given the vote (women may have had local votes at earlier dates if they had a property qualification). This was extended in 1928 to include all women over 21.

Registers were not compiled during the First and Second World Wars.

For more information, see our electoral registers page.

Illustrations

Photographs, postcards etc of many streets. Earliest photographs 1860s, most from 1890s to date.

Prints, drawings and paintings of some areas from 18th and 19th centuries. 

Ratebooks and valuation lists

Ratebooks show who paid the rates on a particular property, and possibly the owner as well. Ratebooks before the early 19th century do not show house numbers, or in some cases even the street. It is often possible to find out when a building was first rated and hence the approximate date of construction. Unusual changes in the 'rateable value' of the property may indicate if it has been rebuilt.

Ratebooks and other valuation records are held from the 18th century (the earliest ratebook is for Holborn for 1726) until 1981/82. Ratebooks are not available until they are 30 years old. The centre also holds the 1973 valuation list (with supplements to 1989) for properties in Camden.

Census returns

Microfilm of the census returns for our area for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901. Street index to each census. Surname index to 1851 and 1881 census and parts of 1861 and 1871 censuses. They show everyone residing in the property on census night, tails of a, sex and occupation.

Researchers can go online to access census records on: www.ancestry.co.uk - this is a subscription site but the library edition is available to use for free in any Camden library.

Census returns (1841-1901)

This provides access to the 1841-1901 census for the whole of England and Wales. Use of the index is free but a charge is made to view each page of census returns.

Title deeds and estate records

Many deeds and leases from 17th century onwards. Only a few are indexed.

Other items

Civil Defence records including photographs (for the borough of Holborn) and maps of bomb damage. Most incident records have not survived.

Manorial records including copy of Hampstead Manor minutes 1742-1843

Business archives including records of Sextons, a Kilburn firm of architects.

Useful addresses

The national archives

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
Information about other archive services in the UK may be found in Archon, the UK archival gateway maintained by the National Archives.

British Architectural Library

www.architecture.com
Papers of architects and organisations. Personal and place name indexes. Drawings and photographs. Fees charged.

English Heritage (London Region)

www.english-heritage.org.uk
Files of information and photographs of listed and unlisted buildings. Open by appointment.

Guildhall Library

www.cityoflondon.gov.uk
London directories, maps and prints. General Reference Library.

Land Registry, Croydon

www.landregistry.gov.uk/
Information about the 13 million registered properties in England and Wales. Fees charged.

London Metropolitan Archives

www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/lma
Middlesex deeds register. London directories, maps and photographs.

National Monuments Record Centre

www.english-heritage.org.uk
Information on notable buildings, photographs and drawings.

Westminster Central Reference Library

www.westminster.gov.uk
General Reference Library. Holds architectural periodicals such as The Builder from 1844-1979.