As conscientious craftsman it is our obligation to preserve our thatched buildings which are rich in heritage and diverse in character.
We aim where possible to maintain the historical vernacular of a building with minimum intervention or ‘like for like’ replacement.
Traditional buildings with thatched roofs require special care and understanding in order to maintain and repair them appropriately. Many buildings with thatch in the south west are listed as being of historic and architectural interest which may impose some restrictions on alteration and repair work.
When repairing a thatched roof it is customary to remove only the top layers of worn thatch and to leave the base layers as a bed to spar fix on the new coat with hazel or willow. This means that layers of early thatch will often survive underneath the surface layers and sometimes medieval thatch will be found preserved.
These old layers provide an insight into early thatching and agricultural methods of the past. The thatch may even contain old varieties of straw such as rye or oat, which would have been tied to the battens using honey suckle, withies or bramble
Blackening on the underside of the thatch suggest medieval origins. Medieval open halls did not have chimneys so smoke escaped through a hole in the roof, leaving soot deposits on the underside of the thatch.
It is more likely for early roof structures to have survived under thatch than any other type of covering. The rafters would have most likely been made from hewn timbers or poles cut directly from the tree with no squaring up. Depending on the area the method of supporting the thatch between the rafters would have been riven battens, wattle panels or woven reed mats.