Discover your house with Heritage Open Days

© Jim Herbert - House exterior

Looking at deeds, maps and architect's plans can reveal a lot about a property but do they give us its full history? Other, more personal, stories are out there, just waiting to be told. They can add a whole new dimension to your appreciation of your home, as I discovered this year.


The house in question is located in Wallace Green and steeped in history. Buildings appear on the corner of Wallace Green and Walkergate in topographic maps of the 16th century. This building, c 18th century, was originally set back from the roadside and features in Wood's map of 1822. Despite its curious side exit, an extension has been added to its front in the 1850s by the Totheric brothers, Berwick's first photographers. It is also stunning: among its features is a striking and very large window located on the top floor, allowing natural light to flood into the room.

First encounters

When I first met the owners, Richard and his partner Sarah, the house was hidden by scaffolding. Masons were in the process of stripping away modern render to expose brickwork desperately in need of re-pointing and in places, re-building. They discovered I had an interest in old buildings and invited me over to look around their house. As a Heritage Open Days organiser, when you see a place this interesting, the little Heritage Open Days light flicks on in your head. I asked them if they might be interested in taking part. They hesitated, “We’ll have to see how far the work progresses.” By September, the inside remained stripped bare but the scaffolding had disappeared to reveal a beautiful new exterior. They agreed to open.


I remember on Sunday evening packing away the bunting and directional signs in Wallace Green and seeing Richard outside the house saying goodbye to someone. He called me over, gave me a huge bear hug and thanked me for encouraging them to take part. He invited me in for a much needed beer (I'd been doing tours all day) and he and Sarah told me all about their experience of the day. I left thinking, "Yes, this is what Heritage Open Days is all about". 

In the short interview below, Richard shares this experience, the insight he gained from the people he welcomed throughout the day and his new understanding about what a house is