Skilled artisan: Rustic-Hut maker

Primitive architecture provided inspiration for the rustic huts that were built in the 18th and 19th century English landscaped parks as the setting for diversions and picnics. David and Andrew Raffle are among the last people in the country to make summerhouses in this tradition. They repaired the Moss House, which was commissioned in about 1820 for the Spring Garden at Belvoir Castle, Lincolnshire.

Both brothers served apprenticeships as thatchers in Derbyshire, but in 1983 they decided to specialise in building and restoring rustic huts. After much historical research, they embarked on designing their own. ‘We thatch with heather, straw or reed, and we use timber which still has the bark on it,’ says David Raffle. ‘Some people ask us to put in a hidden door, so we build in a bit of curved wood which can act as a door handle, opening into a secret storage space behind.’

Featured in Country Life’s Living National Treasures, 1997