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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

26 February,2008: A little about thatch roofs

I thought that I would explain a little about thatch roofs which may not be common in your part of the world. This shot on the left shows Thatchwick's very handsome roof with the dormer windows of the loft-cum-study. Thatch roofs are not unusual in South Africa. After all, the traditional grass roofed huts of the African people can still be seen in the deep rural areas of the country. In the suburbs of the cities, you will find an occasional thatch. Loved for their special looks, only the brave opt for a thatch as the house insurance is high due to the fire risk. I have a lightening conducter (will show you that another time) next to the house to deflect lightening strikes from the roof.

This ilustration comes from a 1953 publication: Patience Strong's Book of Homes and Gardens. She says, "On sunny days the thatched cottage reminds one of a sleepy old lady in a brown straw hat drowsing contentedly in the sunshine. In winter, when the winds are ripping slates and tiles off other roofs, how secure and safe the old cottage looks." Indeed thatch is a wonderful medium: cool and and sweet smelling in summer and warm in winter. I love living under my thatch roof!

Some thatch houses have ceilings so you only enjoy the thatch from the outside. I only have wooden ceilings in my sitting room and sun room which must have been later additions.
This is what it looks like on the interior of my house. Yes, and a few spiders do live in that roof! But fortunately they mostly keep to themselves. Thatch has to be repaired every six or seven years. It is very easy to find a thatcher as many regular houses have an opened thatched area in the garden, near a pool or barbecue and there is always plenty of work for thatchers. Thatchers are usually African men who have inherited the craft of thatching. If you only need to renew the thatch, the thatchers brush the thatch roof with steel brushes to remove the loose, worn grass. This is called combing the thatch. Then new bundles are stuffed into the roof. After renewing the thatch, the roof has a speckled look due to the introduction of the new lighter coloured grass. But it soon weathers to that beautiful soft grey-brown.


Carrie said...

Thanks for the interesting lesson on thatched roofs.

Kathleen Grace said...

Hello Eleanor, Just catching up with some of my blog friends. I have always thought thatched roofs were the epitome of charm. How pretty! I love the color you painted your kitchen a few posts ago. Nice visiting again:>)

Mary said...

Thanks so much for the lesson on thatching Eleanor - and Patience Strong, I remember her well.

In Devon, England we were surrounded by thatched cottages of course but I never actually knew anyone who lived in one, unfortunately. We always enjoyed seeing the thatchers at work. I know you must love your beautiful home and receive many comments on it.