The four-part documentary, which returned to our screens on Monday 8th April at 9pm on BBC Two, tells the story of Britain’s social and political history from the 1820s to the present day, through the residents of a terraced house in Newcastle’s West End.
Searching through city archives, scouring records, and tracking down their living descendants, presenter and historian David Olusoga tells the untold stories of the people who once lived in the house and gains a unique insight into the making of modern Britain.
Deborah Sugg Ryan, who is Professor of Design History in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, reprises her role as the on-screen historical design and interiors expert in each episode, and offers her insights into how the property might have looked and functioned at the time. Deborah is also the series consultant.
Deborah said: “I am delighted to be involved again with this ground-breaking series, which puts house histories and the lives of ordinary people at centre stage. In A House Through Time, I tell some very dramatic stories but I am just as interested in exploring people’s everyday lives, which I do through filming in historic houses and living history museums to bring the house’s past alive.”
At the start of the series, David visits the Georgian end-of-terrace property on Ravensworth Terrace in Newcastle. The current owners know little of their home’s history, but with its grand fireplaces and lofty proportions, the house offers a tantalising glimpse into the past.
Through the years, the house has experienced huge changes in status. It was built in the 1820s for the middle classes and the occupants reflected that. Episode one traces three well-to-do households through times of financial turmoil and epidemic disease.
Episode two traces the house from the 1860s to the 1900s as David discovers a tragic story of scandal and untimely death and Deborah helps tell the story of the house’s reinvention as a refuge for homeless girls.
In episode three, David and Deborah examine the history of the house through the First World War, while the final episode reveals dramatic cases of bigamy and divorce.