Thatching in Suffolk


94aNearly a tenth of all Britain’s thatch lies in this historic county and in common with all it’s surrounding neighbours, the Eastern style of thatching holds sway.

Most thatch today is found in the south and the west of Suffolk. The eastern coastal districts succumbing more than a little, to the lure of imported pantiles; in times past.

Long straw was the main material used, over most of the county; and many examples remain. Some combed wheat reed has recently made an appearance, often being finished in a long straw fashion; with the roof edges being decorated with spars. Or Broaches as they are called, over much of East Anglia. In the north east of Suffolk, near the reed beds of the Broads, a good deal of water reed has always been used.

thatch suffolk england

Up near the Broads… Misty thatch, early in the morning, at Wrentham. This attractive building started life as the local Guildhall, six centuries ago.

thatching suffolk england

thatching suffolk england

Still near the Broads… these two cottages lie in the Victorian model village of Somerleyton. More thatched roofs abound here, including the school…

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Some Suffolk long straw…

thatching suffolk england

Old and new. a modern roof, on a seventeenth century cottage, at Cowlinge. And century old thatch, below, at Barningham.

thatch suffolk england

thatch suffolk england

Rolled gables… Not a feature often seen, in this county. On a late Tudor cottage, in the busy market town of Eye.


Some Suffolk, Norfolk reed…


thatching suffolk england

thatch suffolk england

The left water reed roof, sits well, on a little thatch at Walpole. the right hand cottages are at Benhall Green. They are finished with some local ‘pargeting’,this decorative plaster is often found on thatched properties hereabouts… the left cottage is dated 1698. The school here is also thatched. A thatch in the neighbouring village of Benhall Street is shown below. Dating from in the 1920’s; with a splendid Eastern style ridge, consisting of countless thatching spars…

thatch suffolk england

thatch suffolk england

thatch suffolk england

More old Suffolk thatch… The Edwardian, left hand image, from Capel St Mary, shows a complete repair, over this Mansard roof. An economic form of thatching, commonly seen for decades after this period. Standard coatwork, covers the roof on the right, at Brantham. This image, from around 1930, has captured a long straw thatch, topped with a fashionable ‘saw tooth’ ornamental ridge.

thatch suffolk england

New Suffolk thatch… On some very old houses, at Kersey; dating from the fifteenth century. This large village has many good examples of the thatchers art, in both long straw and water reed.



Some famous thatch, on Suffolk’s southern border…

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Masterpiece… ‘A Cottage in a Cornfield’. As depicted by the local master, John Constable. As would be expected, he has captured the sharp, Eastern style gable ends perfectly. Copyright & thanks to Victoria and Albert Museum.


The image below shows the famous bridge and cottage, at Flatford near East Bergholt; in the very south of the county. Near this spot the artist was born, in 1776. This image, of around 1900, shows a thick long straw roof, with rolled gables. A type of work often seen in neighbouring Essex, which lies close by. Both counties forming the Dedham Vale, an area with a great deal of thatch…

thatch suffolk england

‘Bridge Cottage’ features in two of the master’s works.


Last Stop…

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Hopefully not. A picturesque place to wait for the bus, at Bramfield, but behind is one of the splendid, medieval churches, found in the area. Suffolk has fewer than it’s northern neighbour, but one contains a little carved, wooden treasure. A rare image of a medieval thatcher. This fifteenth century, Suffolk craftsman, proudly holds his side rake; showing the historic use of long straw, in this county…

These buildings have a page all to themselves…