Skilled artisan: Thatcher

‘I started thatching in my school holidays when my uncle had his house re-thatched, and stayed working with thatcher Phil Hart who taught me, and when he retired I carried on. We do all three materials (combed wheat reed, water reed and long straw), in all different styles; basically we can do anything anybody wants. There isn’t an average roof, but a typical job would take about three weeks. There are different regional styles as well: every thatcher has their own style.

‘Thatching is the oldest form of roofing known to man. Thatch is such a good material because it’s durable, and hot in the winter, but cool in the summer; it’s the most environmentally friendly material, and it blends in with the countryside.

‘I thatched the Globe Theatre in the mid-1990s. It was thatched in Norfolk reed, like any other house. It had a flushed sedge ridge on it ? the only thing that was unusual, and it’s the only building I know of which has sparge pipes in it, which is a sprinkler system all over the roof. So if it ever caught fire, or if they have any big festivals on the Thames where they let off fireworks, they can dowse the roof in water do it doesn’t catch fire.

‘The future looks bright for thatching in the UK. There are approximately 60,000 houses in the UK. A lot of people are working from home, so can move out of the cities and have the money to do up old houses. In Devon for example, the thatching industry is booming. There’s also a lot of new work in Dorset ? more there than any of the other counties.’

For more about thatching, visit the merits of water over read thatch