The ‘South Western’ Tradition of British Thatching

This area is unique in Britain, in its historical use of combed straw thatching; as opposed to long straw. This material consists mainly of rye or wheat, known always as reed.

Ridges often have an attractive pointed end, the result of using this combed reed, as a ridging material; in a butts up manner. Thus this type of ridging is also historically unique to this area.

The curved shape found here, is shared with the Southern tradition, but gables and eaves are somewhat narrower. Decorative work is not traditional; and rolled gables are rare.

The Channel Islands, have no history of straw ridging, relying on turf or mortar, in the past.

As this is a geographical tour, the Isles of Scilly have been included in this section, although they used ‘Highland’ thatching methods…

thatch devon

South Western thatch… The only liggers here, are on the ridge. As combed wheat reed, needs none around it’s edges. This early 1950’s Devon thatch, at Alphington, near Exeter, is very typical. Having a narrow overhang, it seems to almost float, on top of the house. The left thatch, was in need of repair. Carried out with some directional thatching. In a similar fashion, to every other area of Britain.

thatch wales

Curved combed thatch… Near St Nicholas. A seventeenth century home, revamped in the cottage orne style, two centuries ago, in Glamorgan. As combed thatch is historically found, on both sides of the Mor Hafren, or Bristol Channel…

Below are some images, of the areas covered, in the 9 following sub pages…