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Andrea Dean on Homes With History

Property journalist Andrea Dean reveals how to Who Do You Think You Are? your home in this guest post and picks out a few houses with interesting histories of their own.

If the success of BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? is anything to go by, it seems that we all love delving into the past. This applies to our homes as well as our family trees, and one of the many joys of living in an older property is discovering its history. In my teens I moved with my parents to a late 17th house and learning about why it was built and its former occupants enhanced our enjoyment and connection with it. 

All period homes have a story to tell, and if yours is something of a mystery, there are plenty of ways of unlocking its secrets. Start by focussing on its recent history: talk to neighbours and estate agents, then head to the library to inspect the Electoral Register and scan newspaper archives and local history books for information. Much of your detective work can be done online. Scotland's Post Office directories include listings of property owners and tenants, and National Records of Scotland holds census and estate records. You can also search the Register of Sasines for land transactions going back as far as 1617.

In some cases you won't have to dig too deep as the past may be well-documented. Take, for example, Craigiehall Temple, in the former Craigiehall estate near Cramond, about five miles west of central Edinburgh.

The estate, which included mansion Craighiehall House, dates back to the 12th century. In 1741 it was left by the 3rd Marquis of Annandale to his nephew, Charles Hope-Weir, who in 1759 built a circular ornamental temple in the grounds. This comprised a stair tower at the back and pedimented portico at the front. The pediment bears the bears the arms of the 1st Marquis of Annandale, predating the temple, and may have been part of a gate leading to the forecourt of Craighiehall House.

The A-listed temple now forms part of a spacious five/six bedroom family home, sympathetically designed to combine period features with contemporary living.

It is linked to the main house via a glazed hallway, and includes a round dining room with double doors opening into the garden via the portico.

A stone spiral staircase leads to a circular bedroom above, which has stone walls, a working fireplace, panelling and a concealed en-suite shower room.

Craigiehall Temple is for sale with CKD Galbraith Edinburgh priced at offers over 835,000.

Tigh-Na-Coille - which means the house in the woods' - is a B-listed former manse eight miles from Inverness, boasting fabulous views over Loch Ness.

Following the establishment of the Free Church in the 1840s, it was built, together with a church, on land that came from the local Fraser Tytler family. They were involved in governing Inverness Prison and it is believed that prisoners built the dry stone walls surrounding the property.

Today it's a four-bedroom family home full of features such as fireplaces, cornicing and shuttered windows, and many rooms have views of the Loch. The house sits in a beautiful garden of just under an acre, which includes the ruins of the former church.

With a guide price of 475,000, Tigh-Na-Coille is for sale with our Inverness office.

More modest properties can have fascinating histories too, as demonstrated by the A-listed Old Schoolhouse in Logie, Montrose.

Built as a school in the mid 19th century, this single-storey dwelling enjoys the accolade of being one of the best-preserved earth-built structures in Scotland. Due to a lack of workable stone, it was constructed mainly in clay mixed with aggregate and straw, and originally consisted of just three rooms.

It later became a Sunday school and then a church before being abandoned in the 1990s and subsequently restored. After repairs were completed in 2009 it won a number of awards, among them the highest building conservation prize in Europe.

The former classroom is now a large open plan sitting room/dining room/kitchen, with deep red lime washed walls, wood flooring, eight windows many with original glazing and a fireplace, and there's also a bedroom with en-suite bathroom, a cloakroom and utility room.

The Old Schoolhouse is for sale with CKD Galbraith Aberdeen at offers over 190,000.

Andrea Dean is a freelance property, lifestyle and interior journalist who writes for various publications including the Metro. Follow her on twitter at @giornalista1