“Living in a house in central London that was known to be over three hundred years old had aroused my curiosity for a long time and so I was delighted to meet Mel and for her to start the discovery process. It has been a wonderful experience with her taking me through each step of the way and exciting to find out the names and backgrounds of all the people who have lived and worked here.
The ensuing book is in pride of place, a valuable source of reference and has really enhanced my sense of privilege in living here. It has made me feel a part of an ongoing history. I cannot recommend Mel and her work highly enough.”
Catherine, Mayfair, London
“Melanie’s expertly researched history has added another layer to our love of [the house] because of course a real home is never just an ‘efficient’ series of rooms. Rather it’s a container for personal memories and stories, even future dreams, and now when I walk round the house, I have other people’s stories too.”
Sarah Salway, Tunbridge Wells, appearing in Kent Life, September 2019
“Melanie is diligent, thorough and exceptionally well-written. The illustrated history has brought the building to life – reading it is like physically stepping into a time machine and creating tangible contact with the property’s past. It is a mesmerising record, not of an inanimate house, but of the varied and colourful characters that have occupied it and the world it has silently observed over the centuries.”
Michael Grunberg, Westminster, London
“It was a triumph! We were delighted with the house history book for my husband’s 60th birthday. All ages from my mother to the children said what a brilliant present – it will live long after we are gone! So many thanks, you created something of great depth and lasting value.”
The McIntosh Family, Somerset
“We had always suspected that we lived in a house with a few stories attached to it but only when Mel began digging with her trademark determined curiosity did it finally agree to give up four centuries worth of secrets. Who would have thought that previous owners included Queen Elizabeth I, one of US President Thomas Jefferson’s best friends and an Olympic show-jumping gold medallist who practiced in the back garden!
From the moment we first met Mel we had utter confidence that she would uncover every snippet of history lurking in the archives. There is no such thing as a dead end with Mel. We now have a beautiful book that documents the story of our home all the way back to 1580, illustrated with copies of original documents and photographs and written in an engaging style that brings history to life. Best of all, she discovered that Shakespeare based a character in The Merchant of Venice on one of our predecessors – yes, we live in Shylock’s house!”
Jon and Anna Champion, Paxford, Gloucestershire
“Melanie is an inspiration as a writer, historian and researcher.
I first heard about Melanie after reading an article she had written on London Squares. I have always been fascinated, not only in the architecture of a building, but also in the human histories behind the front doors.
Melanie spent over two years researching all the different characters who lived on our patch of London over the last 300 years. The end result was excellent. The book is informative and well researched, specialising in significant history concerning some of the characters, with a wealth of history and background.”
Hugo Day, Day Estate
“We thoroughly recommend Mel’s work. This was a first for us, and in addition to the research quality, the descriptions and written work were excellent. [Regarding the completion of the history into a bound book] introductions to the various network for design, printing, and book binding, all worked very well. We enjoyed the project and benefited from clear and regular communication on progress, options, and costs. The final product is marvellous.”
Mr and Mrs Parker, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
“I contacted Mel to ask if she would research into the building in which I have worked for 40 years. Rebuilt in 1725, I realised the task of tracing all the inhabitants of a central, ever-changing London house, from a gentrified single occupancy home to a multi-occupant working-class dwelling, was too much for a novice such as myself to tackle.
Her dedication, hard work and commitment to the task have resulted in a glorious book of such historical interest, I would never have perceived.
Mel introduced me to the world of time travel. I now work with the vision of those who have gone before me, their names, their occupations, their children’s names, their hardships and successes, and the fact that now I too am part of the history. Thank you Mel, you are truly amazing. You are the best!”
Sue Brady, Barbers Point, London
“This history…is already a family treasure. I’m sorry you weren’t with us to see the birthday gift presentation … best present EVER! Your work is exquisite and thorough. Thank you so much.”
Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman, London
“Melanie completed an excellent report which I had commissioned from her on the history of a group of 15th century cottages at Mells in Somerset which constitute one of the earliest examples of what would now be called ‘town planning’. With thorough research, alongside images of old maps and documents, Melanie produced a highly professional and informative document. I would strongly recommend her to anyone seeking research services or wanting to know more about the history of their house or other properties of historical significance.”
Raymond Asquith, Earl of Oxford, Somerset
“Mel produced a wonderfully vivid account of the history of our house dating back to 1805. Her research was detailed and meticulous, her prose engaging, and all backed up with original photographs and engravings of the house itself as well as fascinating entries in public records of the time. I was so delighted with Mel’s work; it has brought our house to life. We now have a marvellous historical document to hand down to our children and grandchildren.”
Neil Calver, QC, London
“Mel Backe-Hansen was very helpful in our opening discussion in narrowing the timescale for my 350 year-old house. Despite the scarce resource material she persevered and produced a clear and informative history of the house and its occupants. Following her report she was very helpful with further explanation about the likely context and circumstances in which the house was built. I have ended up with a much clearer idea about my house and its history and the exercise has been very worthwhile.”
Julie Davenport, Oxfordshire
“[We] LOVED the book – it’s a very special reminder of [our] very special home.”
Steph Wetherell, Berkshire