I work with these two main types of thatch.
Two types of material are used in East Anglia – reed and long straw. Both are excellent when applied correctly, but each is most suitable for certain applications. Reed was traditionally confined to the Broadland region and certain areas of the coast but has spread across the nation in the last hundred years. With its clean, sharp-edged appearance it looks fantastic on both traditional and contemporary roofs, such as barn conversions. When correctly applied, it offers unparalleled longevity – I have worked on roofs 90 years old, although a life span of 50 to 70 years is more usual.
Long straw used to be the primary material across England, but with the advent of the combine harvester leading to less suitable straw, the loss of a rural skill base and cheaper transport for reed and slates, the last one hundred years has seen a sharp decline in the use of this misunderstood material. With a beautifully rounded, organic appearance, no material makes a house blend into the countryside as long straw does. It looks snug, and it is, offering amazing insulation which goes beyond the requirements of today’s building regulations. Properly applied, it has a life span of 35 to 50 years. Thankfully, long straw is enjoying a resurgence as once again people discover the joy and beauty of this unique material.