Not many household adornments ooze more charm than cozy thatched roof cottages, and there’s no better place to find them than in England. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal called them “chocolate box cottages” because a photo of one them would be adorable to adorn a box of chocolates. Made of straw or reed, thatched roofs are said to provide a cooler summer and warmer winter for residents who can pay up for what is now a luxury topper. And, according to that same article, thatched roof homes have not only held their value, but risen in price considerably. But during the Bronze Age when thatched roofs came into their own, thatching was just what you did to use what was on hand.
We first encountered thatching at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre where Neolithic cottages stood out back, a working demo, so to speak, that invited onlookers to move in close and take a look.
A couple of thatchers busy at work caught our attention, and we noted that the craft resembled basket weaving (well, sort of) since they seemed to be weaving the reeds under and over a foundation of sticks.
When we left Stonehenge headed to the Cotswolds, our driver spotted a roofer in action. Being the ever-vigilant, ever-attentive driver that he was, he screeched to a stop, and with cameras in hand we filed out of the car to catch a shot of a thatcher on his ladder hard at work. (Not for the faint of heart, really.) When he saw us watching, he stopped a moment to wave, and then got right back to it.
One house, out of all the ones we saw, seemed to have it all. We noted it in passing, and again, our driver took a U-turn so as to park right in front so we could catch this beauty. Not only did the roof with its patterned topper exude charm and mastery of design, the whole yard merited a second or third look. (And the concrete dogs weren’t too shabby, either!)
So, when in the Cotswolds at least, drive slowly. You don’t want to miss these “chocolate box cottages.” They really are as charming as you heard. If you win the lottery, however, you can do more than just snap pictures as we did. You’ll be living that storybook dream.
Thanks for touring the English countryside with us! — Bert and Rusha
For more information:
Bloomfield, Ruth. “An Uptick in Britain’s Cottage Industry.” Wall Street Journal (January 27, 2017). Retrieved from: http://www.mansionglobal.com/articles/52407-an-uptick-in-britain-s-thatched-roof-cottage-industry