• Touring the Past

Great gift idea: commission a house history

Updated: Dec 28, 2018

House histories satisfy the desire to know more about one’s home, to excavate its hidden stories and gain a deeper appreciation of what makes it distinctive.
Historian Graeme Davison: ‘Buildings are among the most eloquent witnesses to past times’. (Image: Middle Head, Sydney Harbour National Park. Authors collection)

Do you really know your house?

From the tarnished brass door knob and that one creaky stair tread to the smooth, eye-catching bark of the crepe myrtle tree in the back garden, we all believe we know our homes intimately. But ask yourself… do you really? Hidden within the walls of Australia’s houses – from the grandest to the most humble – are hundreds of hidden and previously untold stories of people, neighbourhoods, the environment and shifting cultures that are ripe for resurrection and reflection.

Touring the Past is passionate about house history. We believe it to be born of both professional skill and artistry. The skill lies in having the expertise to pose provocative questions about the property, identify sources to satisfy this interest and mine written records and the landscape itself in a hunt for answers. The artistry comes into play when we breathe life into a narrative offering insights that imaginatively bridge time and place to portray the the evolution of your slice of the country from the Dreaming to the present day.

Shades of meaning and layers of interest. The baronial splendour of Abercrombie House, constructed from the 1870s, Bathurst. (Source: Authors collection)

House Histories deepen our connection to places

The reasons to prepare a house history are multiple. But they are all driven by an urge to know more – to see beyond the existing and interact with the rhythms and sense of a place and its setting. We find that house histories are the perfect gift for the person that has it all. They can also play a part in sustaining stability. In times of unprecedented development within our surrounding built environments or during renovations and change at a house itself, individual place histories can provide an assuring record. Pragmatically, within a hyper competitive property market, they also prove a useful enticement for potential buyers and tenants seeking to understand more about the charms and intangible qualities of a property.

Enter a past world

Our house histories breathe new life into lost worlds of vastly different sensibilities and mentalities to our own. They uncover dynamic pasts, locate aspects of change and continuity and allow for the appreciation of original landscape settings, relationships and designs. They explore the architectural vocabulary of your house, translating its social and cultural meaning and modifications over time. From the viewpoint of your house they also provide a platform from which to discover the broader patterns of the neighbourhood, suburb and ultimately, encompassing city or region. Touring the Past’s house histories will bring light to what has been remembered and unearth much that has lain forgotten for many generations.

A place does not have to host an ostentatious villa to be deserving of closer historical scrutiny, Princes Lane, The Rocks. (Source: Tyrrell Photographic Collection, Powerhouse Museum)

The end result… is fantastic (and up to you)

No one really wants to see how the sausage is made and we will not take up your time telling you how Touring the Past goes about constructing house histories. There are plenty of deceptively simple online guides (click here and here) that can provide you an idea of the practicalities of the process.

The final form of the process is however, worth articulating. The outcome of our research is provided to you in one of two forms (or both):

  • an attractively bound booklet; and/or

  • well-designed digital publication.

All of our work is richly illustrated, copyright correct, cited and engagingly written. We provide a draft PDF version for review, prior to issuing the final copy.

Get in contact with Touring the Past today to discussion getting a House History started.

And yes, gift certificates are available.

Our house histories expand beyond the boundaries of your properties to explore the change over time of historic locales and communities; Coogee Beach, early twentieth century. (Source: Tyrrell Photographic Collection, Powerhouse Museum)
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Touring the Past:

Heritage Consultancy

0491 341 906


PO BOX 966

Artarmon, NSW 2064; and

 Medlow Bath,

Blue Mountains, NSW 2780

0491 341 906


PO BOX 966

Artarmon, NSW, 2064


ABN 55 402 896 237

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