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Heritage Building Recording: Unearthing the Social and Oral History of Our Architectural Heritage

Creating building records is an essential element of heritage preservation. It provides a detailed snapshot of a building's architectural essence, capturing its physical characteristics and inherent architectural value. 'A Guide to Good Recording Practice,' published by Historic England, provides a comprehensive guide to creating such building records. While this guide thoroughly outlines the process of documenting the physical aspects of a building, it misses out on an equally important aspect - the social and oral history associated with these structures.

Every building, whether a centuries-old castle or a modest Victorian house, has stories to tell. These stories, captured through the oral histories of those who lived, worked, or interacted with these buildings, form a crucial part of our shared heritage. They provide context, imbuing bricks and mortar with meaning and life, allowing us to understand not just the 'what' and 'how' of buildings, but also the 'why.'

Preserving the social history of buildings involves recording the role, purpose, and activities associated with these structures. It's about capturing stories of everyday life, events, and changes over time, transforming a static building record into a vibrant socio-historical document.

This is where Chronicle steps in, bridging the gap between physical and social histories. We have collaborated with Local Authorities to support this significant aspect of building record preservation. Our approach focuses on integrating oral history recording into the heritage recording process, capturing the voices and stories of people associated with the building.

These oral histories could range from a worker's daily routine in a historic factory to a homeowner's memories of growing up in a Victorian house. These narratives, when combined with the building's physical record, create a fuller, richer understanding of our built heritage. They allow us to see and appreciate these structures not just as architectural entities, but as containers of human experience and social history.

At Chronicle, we are committed to supporting the comprehensive documentation of our heritage, encompassing both its physical and social aspects. Contact us to find out more about how we can assist in preserving the complete history of your heritage buildings. After all, our architectural heritage is not just about bricks and mortar; it's also about the voices, stories, and lives that these structures have housed.


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