Become a research volunteer

Researching a designed landscape is like doing a jigsaw puzzle with not only some pieces missing but mini-jigsaws inside

Skills needed for landscape research

  • A basic interest and knowledge of gardens and their history
  • Some basic research experience would be useful
  • Interpretation skills – the ability to spot ‘clues’, think laterally, fill in gaps in information
  • Happy to work with uncertainty
  • Curiosity, patience and determination
  • Willingness to write reports

You can choose to work on your own or with other volunteers. Informal training sessions will be available together with help and guidance from the more experienced members of our team.

Getting started

  • Brief chronology of estate including owners is a useful starting point
  • Identify key points in time when changes occur – transfer of ownership, changing fashions
  • Concentrate research on these time points and individuals involved

See our Methods of research and recording page for further information.

If you are interested in volunteering and want to know more, please contact

There are many sources now online, see list below that we have found most useful:


National Archives

Catalogue of items in National Collection and elsewhere – a useful starting point.

Borthwick Institute for Archives (University of York)

Holds many records from York Diocese including tithe maps. Online Catalogue -

Doncaster Archives

Online Catalogue -

East Riding Archives

Online Catalogue -

Leeds University Archives

Brotherton Library – has the archives of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society. Online Catalogue -

North Yorkshire County Record Office

Online Catalogue -

Sheffield Archives

Online Catalogue -

Teesside Archives

Online Catalogue -

West Yorkshire Archive Service

5 locations – Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Calderdale and Wakefield. Online catalogue for all locations -

Historic Maps

Historic Ordnance Survey maps & County Maps

National Library of Scotland –

Ordnance Survey drawings and 1st edition 1" maps (c. 1805 - 1844) 

Note these are limited for Yorkshire

Warburton’s 1720 map of Yorkshire

Jeffrey's map of Yorkshire, 3rd edition (c. 1800)

Historical Sources

Domesday Book

Online version searchable by place -

Victoria County History

York, East & North Ridings only -

Historic Environment Databases

Archaeology Data Service

They have made available unpublished archaeology and field reports on sites including parks and gardens:

Heritage Gateway

Starting point of reference has links to listed buildings, scheduled monuments, national and local monument records and excavations. 

For a guide to Historic Environment Records, please see HER Guide by one of our volunteers, Mags Waughman.

Most of the Historic Environment Records across Yorkshire have online databases that can be queried using the Heritage Gateway. Some have their own online databases, as listed below:

City of York Historic Environment Record

North York Moors Historic Environment Record

Redcar & Cleveland Historic Environment Record

Tees Archaeology Historic Environment Record

Yorkshire Dales Historic Environment Record

National Heritage List

Official national list of listed buildings, scheduled monuments and other statutory designations.