Any multiple word search entered in the simple search box on the front page or at the bottom of all other pages will be split into individual words so a search for “Richmond Yorkshire” or “Richmond, Yorkshire” will return the Richmond in Yorkshire and not the one in Greater London or nothing at all. If you want multiple words, a proper name for instance, to be treated as a single keyword then wrap the search in brackets “(...)”. Each keyword box in the Extended Search is treated as a single search element even if it is more than one word! Because the simple and extended searches are handled differently they may return different results for the same keywords, but only if you entered a keyword with more than one word.
All searches are case insensitive, “manchester” will match “Manchester”, “manchester” or “MANCHESTER”. A keyword will match wherever it appears at the beginning of a word even if it is not the first word in the keyword string so “Manchester” will match “Manchester” and “Greater Manchester”, but “chester” will not match “manchester” (but see below)
In general you ignore “The” at the beginning unless it is a recognised part of a name, but it may pay to try both!
“Saint” is usually abbreviated to “St” with no full stop. “All Saints” is always in full.
Centuries have been included by contributors over the years, but without any standard style. Your search expression will be scanned for anything that looks like a century and a regular expression will be inserted that will hopefully find all instances of the century however they were written by the contributor. There may be occasions when it applies the rule where is shouldn’t, in which case you can wrap your query in brackets and it will be searched exactly as written. It may be safer to use the royal house designators, “Tudor, Georgian” and so on.
“&” can cause problems in searches so we usually replace it with “and”, but sometimes forget! In simple searches “and” and “&” will be ignored completely unless you wrap the search expression in brackets in which case they will be treated as interchangable. In the extended searches they are treated as interchangable.
Apostrophies and quote marks are always removed so St Mary’s will be searched as St Marys.
The search engine uses regular expressions, this allows you to create a skeleton phrase to search on using various wild card characters and character classes. This can be useful if you want to exclude certain records from a search or include several sets of results that have a common theme.
The codes you are most likely to find useful are:
[[:<:]] and [[:>:]] which stand for the start or finish of a word, this could be a space, punctuation mark or the start or finish of the keyword string.
. (full stop) can represent any character including punctuation and spaces.
* placed after any character means match 0 or more of that character so “ba*” matches “b”, “ba”, “baa” etc.
+ placed after any character means match 1 or more of that character so “ba+” matches “ba”, “baa” etc.
? placed after any character means match 0 or 1 of that character so “ba?” matches “b” or “ba”.
(x|y) matches x or y. x and y can be phrases so “(Man|Win)chester” would return everything for Winchester and Manchester.
[^(x)] matches anything that is not x so “Oxford[^(shire)]” will match Oxford but not Oxfordshire.
[[:space:]] matches any space character.
[[:alpha:]] matches any alphabetical character.
[[:digit:]] matches any number character.
Note that the begining word boundary “[[:<:]]” is always added to the start of a query so do not start your phrase with it. If you are searching for a string within or at the end of a word you have to be aware of this and add additional code to account for the extra characters. If you don't know how many characters (if any) are involved you should include one of the repetition characters ? + * after the wildcard. You also need to be aware that multiple words in the search box may be split into multiple queries, if your regular expression has a space in it you may need to use "[[:space:]]" in place of the space character(s).
You are looking for places with the Roman “chester” in the name.
.*ch?ester[[:>:]] The “.*” stands for none or more of any character, the “h?” means places like Cirencester which don’t have the “h” will not be ignored and the “[[:>:]]” means the shires like Worcestershire will be ignored.
You are looking for a picture of a cat but your search returned all the catacombes, catholics, cathedrals...
cat[[:>:]] The word end code will cut off the search after cat.
There are extensive guides on the web if you need to know more. You want to look for MySQL regex or POSIX extended regular expression (ERE).