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question about visiting an old house

Hi !
I was born and grew up in Kingswood Surrey until I was 5 yrs old and have never been back. Now that I am 50 living in California and taking the 2 older of my 4 kids to London this summer, I would love to see the old house again. I was thinking about writing a letter with the address to the present owners, I have no idea who they are, and asking them if I could peek in the back yard. Do you think this is creepy or is it worth a try? I dont want to offend anyone but would love to see it. It had large hedges in the front from what I can remember so likely cant see beyond those. Thoughts? thx laura

Posted by
3986 posts

Have you had a look via Google Earth if it is still standing and, if so, whether it is in a condition where you would be happy to return?

I see no issue in writing to the present owners with your request. They might be happy for you to pay a visit, they might not, you won't know unless you try.

Posted by
5823 posts

Definitely less creepy to write first rather than just turn up!

Posted by
581 posts

Once you’ve taken a look with Google Earth, if you do decide to go, take along some family album photos of the house and your family when you lived there. It may break the ice with the current owners and will be fun for your children to compare.

Posted by
1220 posts

I don't see that you've anything to lose by writing. They might be welcoming, they might not. Either way it's a lot less creepy than finding some unannounced visitor peering into your home. By the way, perhaps don't ask about their "back yard" - "garden" might be politer (even if we all know "yard" isn't deprecotary when used by Americans); especially if it's their pride and joy!

Happy Brexit Day, everyone.

Posted by
24 posts

yes, I will do that. I did take a look on google earth. How the imagination of a 5 yr old differs from reality :)
I still may go if someone nice answers my letter.. if not, memories are timeless. thx laura

Posted by
2717 posts

My wife and I stopped at a house she had lived in, in Germany, as a teenager and just walked up to the front door. The people were nice and let us see the house. Before leaving, her old neighbor came outside and remembered her and her family. At that time my son was a baby. We went back in 2004 so my son, who was in the military, could see the house, and now have a photo of him at the house as a baby and when he was 25.

Posted by
1092 posts

My experience is limited to the United States. My family was one of the very first to move into a newly developed suburb in Columbus, Ohio and I went back to visit years later. I just knocked on the door and requested permission to take pictures of their house. They were quite receptive, showed me around and I pointed out some of the things my had done in the house and grounds since he was skilled in woodworking.

You’ve got nothing to lose in London and at least there you won’t be met with at the door looking into the business end of a .44 Magnum.

Posted by
490 posts

A good old fashioned letter is a great idea. I go back to the UK each summer to visit family and I always go past my childhood home on my way to my sisters' house. I never did get the courage to ask for a peek inside my childhood home with the new owners - but I did go to the neighbor's house last year who has lived there all this time. She lived in a similarly designed detached bungalow (one-story house built in the 1930's). Once inside her home, it was like time had stood still! She had not changed a carpet, cabinet, or piece of furniture in over 35-40 years. It was just as I remembered it. We were able to peek through the 7ft hedge that divided our back gardens. A few trees had been taken out but the flower beds were basically in the same place. The house looked pretty much the same from the outside. The house has since changed owners again and when I knew it was for sale I looked it up on the realtor site on the internet. It was fun to see images of the inside this time.

I also went to check on my grandmother's farm that had been sold a long time ago (think 15th century Grade II building in a beautiful country setting). Anyway, my brother knocked on the door and spoke with the new owners who were more than glad to show us around. He had taken a photo album to show the new owners that we had a connection. The new owner had done a lot of research and history on the house and was pleased to make the connection with us. In fact, he had found a photo album in the house and did not know who the people in the photos were. It was us! It was a great connection for both of us. The farmhouse is in the process of being renovated and I can't wait to go see it again and see the progress.

You have nothing to lose in making that contact.

Margaret -