Local Heart, Global Soul

September 3, 2013

The Thatching Tradition, More Than Just Under Construction…

Filed under: ENGLAND,Great Dunmow,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sometimes you just have to get lucky and be in the right place at the right time.

My luck was certainly in on the day that I took photographs of thatched house around the English town of Great Dunmow last summer.

I turned around from photographing one beautiful roof to see another down the road a little on the other side of the street and suddenly realised that the thatch wasn’t all neat and even: it was in the process of being worked on.

A few steps towards the driveway of the house revealed a thatcher perched high up on a ladder busy making a neat line of thatch along the top ridgeline of the house.

I called out a hello and asked if he minded me taking photos of him working and he was so intrigued by my interest that he came down the ladder for a chat.

I learned that far from being a dying trade, there are a small group of local thatchers who keep busy renovating the roofs of local houses and as we saw in yesterday’s photo series, there are also an increasing number of newer homes being built that have thatched roofs. The thatchers each have their own signature styles and patterns of thatch that fit within the local and regional styles and they take great pride in their work.

This thatcher was delighted that I wanted to feature his work and thatching in general on my blog and was very pleased that I wanted to know more about the process. I asked about the fire risk of thatched roofs and was told that because of modern building regulations and modern materials used when installing chimneys these days, that the fire risk was  negligible, but that the cost of thatch was more expensive than a tile or slate roof.That said, the thatch only needed renewing about every forty  years and the density of it made it surprisingly water and weather resistant.

I was totally fascinated by the process and couldn’t believe that Id been lucky enough to see a house in the process of having it’s thatched roof renovated.  I’ve also included some extra photos of other houses I saw that day that better show the thatch in detail.

In some of the houses where the thatch comes low to the ground level, a thin layer of chicken wire encases the the thatch… I saw this house later in the day so didn’t know why… to stop the rodent community from setting up home inside? or birds from stealing straw for their nests? All of it has character and it’s very clear that thatching is far more than a trade, it’s also an art form.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

thatched houses in Great Dunmow 1n (Small)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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