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researching the history of a french house

I have a farmhouse in the dordogne and after many years would like to go back into the history of the house. How do I start ? Are there archives that I can access?
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Re: researching the history of a french house

Camellia, at last years  Portes Ouverts they had a display of photographs, some of them very old. They had all been brought in by the elders of the commune.

We saw a photo and I said 'that's our house'. OH said, don't be daft - with good reason because I am daft - but when I asked my neighbour she said yes, it is your house, and these are all the people, and he died in the war, and she ran off with the circus etc etc. So, not the house so much as the occupants, which I guess is what you are interested in. Turns out that nearly everyone here is related to someone who used to live in our house. They all have their stories to tell, and are happy to tell them.

So, there you go, try asking the neighbs!

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Re: researching the history of a french house

When we bought our house the notaire asked us if we would like copies of the previous actes that he had. These went back to 1893 when the house was sold for - wait for it - the equivalent of £25. So you could try your local notaire.


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Re: researching the history of a french house

You could also try the Archives Departementale for your Departement - after you have the notaire's information.  If the notaire can help, you should be able to see who the previous notaires were that transferred your house.

Then try the AD for the notaires who used to work in your area, many ADs have notaire's records, details of houses that they transacted, records of their clients etc, in some cases pre dating 1789.

I use the notaire's old records for work and have used them to trace the histories of French families and their houses.

Tony F

Dordogne (24)

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Re: researching the history of a french house

We bought a fermette back in 2002 which had been altered over the years with false ceilings, partition walls  and the blocking off what turned out to be a large stone fireplace in the salon. The most unusual feature to be uncovered was a large arch in what is now the kitchen and this turned out to be the key to unlocking part of the history of the house. We had previously visited the local Marie  and were told the only information recorded was that part of the house had been built in 1721 and we thought that this was its earliest date.   Last November we heard of and joined  Maison Paysanne de France, yearly membership costs 46 € for a couple and 4 magazines plus the chance to attend courses and lectures -  website: This February the nearest volunteer came to visit and he was able to fill in so many gaps about the house, including the fact that the original part of the house was built in the 1500s!  Anyone interested in renovating using the old methods or learning these skills would really benefit.If you want any more info let me know. We have been bowled over with the enthusiasm and help given.


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Big Smile [:D]

Re: researching the history of a french house

thanks for your help. I have now approached the neighbours andam about to visit the notaire!


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Re: researching the history of a french house

Hi this is a fairly old post but if anyone can help I would very much appreciate it. We have a property its half of a large house in a small hamlet just 2 km from historical Brantome. We were told by the previous owners that they they thought it was a priory because of its monastic style arches, fireplaces, bread oven and architecture and its close proximity to the famous Abbey in Brantome. The walls are very thick and the stonework is quite elaborate.
We would very much like to trace the history the previous owners tried but got nowhere. Any help would be great .thanks nick

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Re: researching the history of a french house

I’m lucky in that my neighbour‘s son is a history teacher who has carried out a lot of research into the history of our hamlet including my house. He had access to the departmental archives and the information that he discovered came through hours of research and cross referencing, a real labour of love. An interesting point is that, in our case, the facts backed up by the archives were quite difference to the recognised story retold by several of the residents.
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