Find out how to research your family history and uncover the secrets of your ancestors’ past at an exhibition and two special talks being held at Eastgate House over the next two weeks.

Research expert Tessa Towner, who’s spent thirty years tracking down her family history, will be talking to visitors about how to research their family tree and the discoveries she made while delving into her own past.

The talks will take place at 1.30pm on Saturday, 23 and 30 July at Eastgate House, Rochester High Street, with an exhibition on how to research your past and what sort of discoveries you may make open to visitors from next Wednesday, 20 July until 3 August.

Tessa’s interest began when she found a letter from an elderly relative.

“She was reminiscing about the family’s past, so I wrote to her and asked for more details! This was back in the mid 1970’s and I have been researching on and off ever since,” she said.

Her studies helped her discover that this branch of her family were farmers and publicans in Meopham, and one ancestor built the Cricketer’s pub there. She also discovered that other relatives included a light housekeeper at North Foreland in the late 18th century, and a sailor who was captured by the French in Napoleon’s time and spent 10 years as a prisoner of war.

Eastgate House is a grade one listed Elizabethan town house that was built by Sir Peter Buck, Clerk of the Cheque at Chatham Dockyard. Subsequently five generations of Bucks lived in the house. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the house had many uses, notably as a girls’ school. It features as the Nun’s House in Dickens’ novel, Pickwick Papers.

The exhibition will be open to visitors at Eastgate house every day from Wednesday, 20 July until Wednesday, 3 August, 10am to 3pm. The talks from Tessa Towner will take place on Saturday, 23 and Saturday, 30 July at 1.30pm. Places can be booked by emailing or calling 01634 338110.