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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

Home Sweet Home

With the clocks going back an hour here in the UK and the winter ahead of us, it's that time when I think of evenings in front of a roaring fire in a cosy home... which, in turn, makes me think of my ancestors' homes.

Many of us enjoy trying to find the places where our ancestors lived and I've had a few successes over the years locating addresses which haven't been modernised beyond recognition, been bombed to oblivion during wartime or demolished for a new housing development or motorway.

A favourite photograph

One gem of a photo I have amongst my collection is this one of the house where my great-grandparents, Thomas and Eliza Diggory, were living at the time of the 1911 census. (Love the hat, Great-granny!) My grandmother, Edith, is the young girl in the centre.

Unfortunately, the only address given on the census page is The Wergs, Wolverhampton, which hasn't been much help in locating it.

The Wergs was a small settlement, comprising mainly of a large house, Wergs Hall, its estate, a pub and a cluster of cottages. My grandmother's elder brother, Tom Diggory was in service at the hall, working as a footman before the First World War.

The construction of the house is interesting - almost industrial with its factory style metal windows. Although I've "travelled" around the area in Street View on Google Earth I've never found it so I assume it is no more.

I had more luck, though, with my great-grandparents next house, which was in Nursery Walk in Tettenhall, the village which adjoins The Wergs. I was delighted to discover that their terrace house had, in recent years, been sympathetically renovated and, other than changes to the garden wall and the railings, it's almost identical to the photograph I have of it in the family archive, taken during my great-grandparents time.

A variety of homes

Over the years researching mine and my husbands' family history, we've located, and visited, a varied range of accommodation where our ancestors once lived - farmhouses, terraced houses, city town houses, almshouses, a lodge, a shop & post office, a mill and even a caravan to name but a few (and a large country house, if you count where my servant ancestors "lived in"!). But there are many more left to find, I'm sure.

Wandering the country using the brilliant facility of Google Earth searching for ancestors' addresses, without needing to leave the comfort of my own home, is a great way to spend a dark rainy evening. I may yet add some extra finds to the list this winter. Then, come next spring, maybe even pay a visit!

What interesting homes have you discovered during your research?


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