A Summary Of The Thatched Roof
The thatched roof has played a pivotal role in the history of buildings across the UK over the past centuries, and thatching has its roots dating back to 5000bc. At around 5000 BC humans started to occupy the areas between the Baltic and the North Sea and took to farming and cultivating as a means to survive. Before this time, humans lived in caves or basic dugouts covered in branches, but it didn't take long before man started to utilise reeds to constructs walls and roofs for their homes.
The very first thatched roofs were discovered to have been used during the new stone age and located in what is now Denmark. As the people migrated further north and west, they bought their building knowledge with them, and before long it had become a staple of British architecture.
While a stonemasons legacy can be seen for centuries after construction, a thatcher’s work lasts for a maximum of around 30 years. Thatching is a skill and a trade that is acquired and passed down through the generations, and it is still a trade that is very much in demand, especially in Kent, England. A thatched roof is constructed using either water reed, cereal reed, or turf. The organic materials provide a waterproof, self-insulating roof that provides a highly desirable aesthetic finish, although it can also be one of high maintenance.
The reeds, when packed together correctly and at the right angle can provide a fully functioning roof that allows water to be absorbed by up to 1 inch before it can go no further. As most thatching can be up to a foot thick, this provides perfect waterproofing for the roof space. The reeds also act as an insulator and help keep the cold out during winter and the heat out during summer. Thatching also provides a home for many of the much-needed wildlife found in an English garden.
In modern-day Britain, thatching has become a niche trade, with just under 1000 registered thatcher’s remaining.
A thatched roof brings a certain rural charm to many buildings, especially country cottages and listed pubs. Unfortunately, it is fast becoming a thing of history and as more and more buildings switch to more standard roofing choice, the thatched roof slowly disappears. A well-constructed thatch roof provides the home with an air of old-world elegance and charm while proving to be functional at the same time.