A House Through Time – featuring William Nicholson

This month a new series of the BBC 2 programme – A House Through Time started. The focus of series four is on 5 Grosvenor Mount (previously the house was numbered differently as #3) in Headingly, Leeds, Yorkshire.

Historian David Olusoga presents the programme which looks at the inhabitants of one house from when it was built up to the present day. Previous series have been based in Liverpool, Newcastle and Bristol.

I caught up with the first episode of the new series this week and was interested that it was Leeds as some of my Marshall family were in the Leeds area during the 1800s. Headingly was ringing a bell somewhere in my brain and at the start of the programme I had a little wish to myself that wouldn’t it be amazing if some of my family were by chance linked to this house…

Imagine my utter surprise when they showed the 1871 census entry for the house at that time – where there in black and white were the names William Nicholson – Building Contractor and his wife Sophia and their adult daughters, Sophia, Ann and Emily. I was blown away! It also showed a photograph of William which I would love to get a copy of, and told a tragic tale of what happened to their youngest son John in 1847. The Nicholson’s would have moved to the house sometime around the late 1860s and were there for a few years before moving on to live at Burley Grange where they were living when Sophia died in 1878.

Photo: BBC/Twenty Twenty Productions Ltd/Claire Wood

I have written about the Nicholson family and my connection to them in this post here – The Marshall Family – Part Four – John Marshall 1763 – 1851. As William Nicholson’s wife Sophia Marshall was the sister of my 3x great grandfather John Marshall b. 1795.

It is a fascinating programme and if you haven’t already watched it – please do catch up with it on the BBC iPlayer – here. I am very much interested to find out more about the lives of the next set of residents of 5 Grosvenor Mount.

Did you watch it? What did you think?

12 thoughts on “A House Through Time – featuring William Nicholson

  1. John Marshall (Sophia’s father) is my 4x gt grandfather and I too was amazed as I sat and watched the programme. I haven’t really done much research into John’s children (apart from Sophia) so was fascinated by the story that David told. Can’t wait to find out the next chapter in the house’s history.

    • Hi Sharon. I remember us being in touch back in 2017 about the family – you are descended from Jennet Marshall who married William Johnson? The sister of my 2x great grandfather John Marshall b. 1832? All such fascinating stuff!

      • Yes, I remember too. I wonder where he got the photo from and if there are any of Sophia. If they were such a prominent family, there maybe something in the newspapers. Will have a route around…..

    • Thanks – will have to have a bit of a hunt around. It would be nice if someone somewhere might also have a photograph of Sophia too, although no photograph of her was shown on the programme but it would be nice to think that there might be some out there.

    • It was pretty awesome. I then watched it again last night and took a photo from the tv of the photograph I saw of William Nicholson! Paul wants me to research the history of a couple of houses he lived in when he was growing up on the Isle of Wight – so a project for me to think about when I am not so busy with work!

  2. Hi Alex.

    How exiting it must have been for you to have that connection with your family tree on the TV show. I tried to watch it , but unfortunately the BBC iPlayer doesn’t work outside the UK. Maybe the show will eventually be shown on the ABC. The BBC shows often are.

    I hope that you and Paul are keeping well and safe.

    Fondest regards.


    Sent from my iPad


    • Hi Allan – thanks for your message. It was very exciting! Especially after my little “I wish they would be on it but they probably won’t be” thought!
      We are doing well thank you. Both very busy with work but things are opening up a bit more for us over here so we went to see some live music last weekend which was good, but will see how long that lasts for in case we end up having some more rules being brought back in again!
      I hope you and the family are well too?

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