Thatching in Warwickshire & Worcestershire


100aThis area consists of the two historic counties; which now includes most of the modern, metropolitan county of the West Midlands; which is incorporated here; except that part included with Staffordshire.

Apart from the famous Ann Hathaway‘s Cottage, at Stratford on Avon; which is featured in the following page. These two historic counties, also have many other attractive thatched buildings.

The thatch here mainly follows the curved Southern tradition, especially in the county of Worcester. However, this being the northernmost limit of this style, the influence, of the neighbouring Northern tradition, can be also seen; particularly in parts of Warwickshire. Watling Street the old roman road, forms part of Warwickshire’s north eastern boundary. As already mentioned, in the introduction to the various thatching styles, this once marked a meeting point, between Saxon and Viking cultures. And is still the rough line, between the curved and angular thatching styles. So the squarer shape to the thatching hereabouts perhaps still reflects this Dark Age division…

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Northern style… This old image, of the Warwickshire smithy at Dunchurch, shows a Northern style thatch. Fairly angular long straw, topped with a mortar ridge. The thatch roof is still here, the modern thatch being more curved and of combed wheat reed. Also standing is the chestnut tree; a century and more older and much larger…



Whatever the traditional style of thatching, long straw was once the material of choice; in both counties. This is now hard to find. Spars, known as Pricks in Warwickshire, are occasionally seen following an eaves line, in a memory of long straw work. But today the coating material will mainly be combed wheat reed. Combed wheat was known of in Worcestershire, but the Agricultural Reporter stated it was only used in cider making, two centuries ago.

Most modern thatching is found in the southern parts of both counties. The attractive settlements, around Worcestershire’s Breedon Hill, containing a great deal. But even the large conurbations, in the north of this area; included in the West Midlands, have a few scattered roofs in their surrounding villages…


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West Midlands thatch… The left hand cottage, with a Tudor core, lies at Balsall Common. And is one of the few original homes hereabouts. The rest mainly dating from the last century. The right hand cottage, with an attractive straw bird and a ‘northern’ boarded gable end, lies at Berkswell.



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Southern Warwickshire… The upper image shows ‘The Smithy and Post Office, Upper Brailes’, with an almost completed long straw roof, in around 1900. The lower right stone cottage is at nearby Sutton under Brailes. With a rolled gable end, it recalls this areas long straw tradition. Although now coated in combed wheat reed. The unusual building on the right, is the lych gate to Long Compton church. Around four hundred years old, it was once the local cobbler’s shop and part of a longer row of thatched cotttages…

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Northern Warwickshire… This seventeenth century cottage lies at Newton Regis, the northernmost parish in Warwickshire. Bounded on the north-west by Staffordshire and on the north-east by Derbyshire and for 500 yards or so, by Leicestershire. Noman’s Heath lay close by, a lawless place, as it was so easy to move to another county…


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Over in Worcestershire…

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Warwickshire old and new… The above shows ‘North Street’, Rugby, at the very end of the nineteenth century. With a long gone, guttered thatch. It’s now the busy urban B5414… The right hand cottage at Salford Priors, lies just over the border from Worcestershire. In an area with a lot of thatch, in both counties.

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Medieval Worcestershire thatch… This charming, cruck framed building, near Bromsgrove dates from the fifteenth century. And is said to be the oldest inhabited house in the area. It lies in a very secluded spot. Only a dozen miles from Birmingham city centre…


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More old Worcestershire thatch… The above cottage at Broome, shows a very Southern traditional curved thatch. With the roof on the right hand thatch at Doddenham being a little more angular. Both being thatched in long straw, over a century ago.

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Timber framed Worcestershire thatch… The tall roof on the above cottage lies at Great Comberton. One of the several thatch filled villages, surrounding Breedon Hill. The lower cottage at Norton Lenchwick, is in much the same area. With its combed wheat reed roof, having a line of liggers along the eaves. A reminder of the long straw tradition, in this county.

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Immaculate… A combed wheat reed roof, with an unusual porch ,at Bredon.


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Finally, in a country churchyard…

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Worcestershire old & new… On the left is an well photographed cottage at Cropthorne, in combed wheat reed. The old image from the 1930’s, shows long straw roofs at Broadway, another photogenic spot in this county; with a few thatches…

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Up a narrow Warwickshire track, lies the church of St. Milburga, at Wixford. In the atmospheric churchyard is a small wooden building, thatched, with walls of gorse and heather. This little thatch, is said to have acted as a stable, for the horse of any minister conducting services here. It is perhaps three centuries old… A rare survivor, of the countless, thatched small buildings, that were once found throughout Britain.

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