A new roof

We’re being rethatched. And a very interesting procedure it is! But never fear – I’m not going to give you a straw-by-straw commentary. And while our expert thatcher is at it, he’s replacing many of the original roof timbers from 1860 (ish) which were hewn by hand from trees in the forest right here. The ‘good’ stuff which he leaves in place is extremely hard, almost defying his drill.

The thatch itself is Chinese these days. Why? Because local reed beds produce a much shorter stem which is more expensive to install – covering only half to 4/5ths of the area per bundle (see above).

So I’ll try to take some pics when it’s done – already a tribute to the craft.

Author: janus

I'm back......and front - in sunny Sussex-by-the-sea

25 thoughts on “A new roof”

  1. When I saw your piccie I thought, “That’s a pretty substantial thatch. How bad can the weather in Denmark be”, but then I realised what’s occurring. I’m all in favour of traditional crafts, my own stone-built garden walls being a case in point, and look forward to further updates.


  2. Mine are not dry stone, nor are they the usual cinder-block and cement core with a thin stone cladding. They are solid stone faced by hand from front to back and from foundations to capping. Some parts are nearly three metres high and they cost a fekkin’ fortune. I may be moved to post a piccie.


  3. It will have to be. My connexion to California is broken and I refuse to go to Germany again. I have nothing but Dorset at this point. Necessity is the mother of all invention.

  4. James, no, it’s mid-19thC. No stone hereabouts; local materials are timber, brick, tile and reeds, used extensively by ‘workers’ for their homes until the end of that century. Reeds for this house were sourced originally from a string of shallow lakes only a km. away; timber from the forest surrounding us. I believe that as forest workers they were allowed materials free-of-charge.

  5. Congrats Christopher. Nice place Dorset.

    That’s a pretty big job there Janus… but I guess it will last some time.

  6. Boadicea and Janus: Thank you. It’s in southern Dorchester, thankfully not Poundbury, and is close to the countryside. It’s no more than 15 minutes walking distance to central Dorchester.

  7. Boa, yes, it is likely to take about eight weeks in total, excluding rain breaks which after 3 weeks have taken up 4 working days. The thatcher works alone because the Danish employment regs/union rules make hiring occasional help impossible; and taking on an apprentice prohibitively expensive.

  8. And I’m back to the beginning again. The offer was rescinded at the last moment and I, with two full days left before leaving the UK for about a month, have no clue as to where I am to go upon my return. Reassuring.

  9. That’s a shame. Maybe there’s a holiday let in the area which you could have at a fair rent during the off-season?

  10. Janus – why oh! why do Regs make taking apprentices expensive. Just where are the craftsmen to come from? When your thatcher goes – who will replace him?

    What a shame – the UK property laws are (in my opinion) appalling. A holiday let is not really what you want – but at least you will be in the area to grab whatever comes up.

  11. Janus and Boadicea: I agree. In some jurisdictions once an offer is made — and accepted — it’s legally binding. I don’t expect special treatment or any favours from the world, but not getting constantly jerked around would be a pleasant change. The innkeeper “might” have something that would work short-term. He has some cottages that are used as overflow during peak season. Since we’re far from that I might get a discounted rate — without cleaning services or breakfast — on a week-by-week basis until I find something.

  12. That’s the kind of deal I had in mind, CT.

    Boa, whereas the thatcher himself gets paid per squ. m. of roof, contract by contract, an apprentice has to have a guaranteed monthly salary, rain and shine, winter and summer. So the fixed costs of the business rise without any guarantee of extra income. Our man, now about 55, is sure his generation is the last.

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