“Mel did a wonderful job in producing a fabulously detailed and well-researched history of our home. She guided us through the process from start to finish: the bound book is beautiful. Reading the history has given a new dimension to the walls within which we live.”
James Segan, Westminster, London
“I was delighted with Mel’s work. She produced a history which turned up many interesting facts about our house and presented them in a comprehensive history.”
David Reade, KC, Worcestershire
“We can’t thank you enough. We utterly love the history. It feels like we’re connected so much more to the stories of the people that have lived through our home. You’ve done an incredible job! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!”
Irene and Paul, Surrey
“Having watched, and really enjoyed, the television programme ‘A house through time’, and noting that Mel was one of the researchers, we contacted her to help put together a history of our house built in the 1550s.
We found Mel to be not only professional, but also genuinely interested in the way she went about her research, visiting us to get to know the house. We were somewhat hampered by the covid pandemic but still Mel worked her way through the difficulties this caused, and she always kept us up to date on progress. She left no ‘stone unturned’!
We now have a wonderful insight into the people who have lived in our home over the centuries. We would have no hesitation in recommending Mel as a house historian.”
The Lane family, ‘Hall o th Wood’, Staffordshire
“Mel did a fantastic job in bringing to life the history of our recently acquired house, ‘The Sea House’ in Dymchurch Kent. The brief was fairly loose as I wasn’t entirely sure what was out there in terms of information on ‘The Sea House’ but Mel knew exactly how to bring it all to life. We had a couple of things to aim at and Mel was fantastic at communicating with local sources and past owners. The combination of this and Mel’s archive research allowed her to pull together a really clear picture of the amazing history of ‘The Sea House’ over the last 100 years. If I was to undertake a similar historical research project, Mel would be the first call I’d make.”
Jeremy Hill, ‘The Sea House’, Dymchurch, Kent
“One of the pleasures of Mel’s extensive research is that she compiled a full history about the people, stories and background of my house that I’d wondered about for years. She bought the house and its environs to life. Mel is the master house-sleuth tracking the details that would never otherwise come to light.”
Carol Woolton, Contributing Editor British Vogue, author and founder of if Jewels Could talk, London
“SAV Group instructed Melanie to research the history of a large hostel in central London, in order that we could better understand the type of occupancy during its history. Melanie did an excellent job, drawing on wide range of sources – despite the challenges of a coronavirus lockdown – and produced a comprehensive and very useful report.”
Richard Lemon, Director of Planning, SAV Group, London
“Thank you so much. We are really pleased with how [the history] has turned out after all your hard work. A job extremely well done.”
Barry and Helen McNicholas, Gloucestershire
“Despite a programme of heavy commitments and many current clients, Melanie Backe-Hansen was able to take on a short, but very fruitful and successful programme of research into 300 years of history of the previous owners and inhabitants who have lived in our West Sussex farmhouse.
Her access over the period of research was very much hindered and slowed by the severe Covid-19 restrictions with limited access to public and local authority records, libraries and sources of reference. However, she showed great perseverance, resilience and scholarship in her research and eventually managed to access most of the sources she needed. She was able to produce a fascinating and very informative report. This threw new light on the many families who have lived in this farmhouse, has produced a wealth of new information, and opened up many lines for further research. We are extremely grateful to her for her dedication, determination, expertise and extensive experience and we have an excellent report from which to carry forward further research. Her communication, advice and help generally have all been very much appreciated and we wish her every success for the future.”
Rupert and Stephanie Head – West Sussex
“We commissioned Mel to help us with a legacy brand project, a private members’ club near 100-years old, but sadly with no real record of its history in any detail. Even with limited access to resources, due to the pandemic, Mel managed to deliver not only a brilliantly written and accurate report but also managed to dispel some of the inaccurate communication which had been circulating the club for years.
The report will be a key tool in helping us reimagine some of the wonderful stories and pioneering spirit of some of the club’s inhabitants and members. Through Mel’s detailed findings we discovered a real sense of community and comradery between the people who had walked through The Club doors giving us further impetus to bring these lovely findings to life.
Our client was thrilled with Mel’s report, supporting newspaper and document clippings, and to finally fill in some of the gaps in the Club’s timeline.”
Managing Director, Our Design Agency [for private members’ club in London]
“Having had limited success in trying to find out the origins of my house myself, I decided to approach Mel to find out more. With excellent testimonials, from the outset I was very impressed with Mel’s approach, enthusiasm and “can do” approach. I felt like I was very much coming along for the journey rather than just being presented with a final product so to speak which was great.
I was amazed at the amount of detail that Mel managed to unearth and her expertise in this field was clear to me from the outset. Her research was methodical and focused in its approach and as a result, I was reconnected with the former owner of the house and was able to return a letter dating back over 40 years which was found during our recent renovations works!
I am extremely pleased with the house history and certainly would not hesitate to recommend Mel to anyone.”
Madeleine Shoulders, Godalming, Surrey
“Whatever there is to find out about your home, Melanie Backe-Hansen will find it. I thought I had a nondescript 3-bed semi, but I now know not only about its bombing during the war, I know every single occupant the house has ever had, and even where the war-time inhabitants went for the duration, and when they returned. I’ve been told of one resident’s semi-celebrity status and have the news clippings. I see my house with a sense of history now, and wonder what legacy we’ll leave it. I recommend Melanie as your house history detective; if it’s there she will uncover it.”
Helen Kent, East Acton, London
“We are very privileged to live in a lovely old Georgian house and visitors always asked us about it’s history but unfortunately we did not know very much about it. We tried to look into who had lived here but eventually came to the point where we didn’t know where to go next. We therefore decided to contact an expert and luckily found Melanie.
We were amazed at the amount of people that had lived in our house over it’s 300 year life. Melanie found out so much about all the previous occupants, their occupations, marriages, relations and sadly deaths but we have found it all fascinating.
Melanie kept us up to date on her progress on a regular basis and arranged for all the information to be put into a bound book which includes photographs and copies of old documents. An excellent keepsake to refer to when visitors ask us about our house.
I would recommend Melanie to anyone who wanted an informative and detailed history of their house.”
Helen & Jim Hurst, Laleham, Middlesex
“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