A pair of leggetts, used to ‘dress’ the thatch on the roof and achieve a smooth surface.
There are as many different spellings for this device as there are internet sites I researched, so please don’t quote me.. !
One of the more memorable quotes I did come across is that a thatch is like a “controlled compost heap”, for as soon as it is laid it starts to decay. Looking back at this original shot of our roof, it is clear that some slippage has occurred under the end gable chimney. After combing off the moss, the thatchers started the repair.
The aim is to fill the gap by repacking it with straw. Yelms (bundles of straw) are laid onto the roof and fixed into place with twisted and bent spars, the latter hammered in to act like staples.
You can see the ‘staples’ more clearly in this shot, there are two to the right of the new straw and one to the top right of the leggett. They’re just temporarily poked in there awaiting deployment.
The thatcher starts to work at the bottom of each section, building up the thatch coat in layers. Each layer has to be densely packed if the roof is to remain watertight and then securely lashed down before the next one is applied. It’s a lot like upholstery in many ways, if the foundation isn’t right nothing put on top will be able to correct it.
The new straw is blended into the existing coat as the thatcher works. It obviously stands out like a sore thumb at the moment, but in a few months it will have weathered back and be difficult to distinguish from the old.
The finished patch
After the ridge, areas of thatching around chimneys are the most vulnerable to wear over time. On each side of this chimney depressions had formed, possibly where rainwater runs down the brickwork and on to the roof. Here, on the back slope, the depression was quite deep. The thatcher fixed this by packing straw under the cement flashing to form a new chimney apron.
The finished job.
The Precipitous Bank was once home to 30 or so large conifers which towered above the cottage. As we were purchasing the house our surveyor, and later a thatcher, recommended they came down. Obviously we’ve done that but the historic lack of air circulation has taken its toll and clearly this slope is in less good condition than the front, even though it is in fact a more recent roof.
The front slope after combing
A near perfect coat and a good illustration of the need to have the very large spruce tree down as well. The longer we can keep the roof looking like this the longer we put off that humongous bill..
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief foray into thatching. Come back in three years when it’ll be time to do the ridge!
For Part 1 of this tale go to ‘Previous’ at the top of the page, or click HERE.
Linking this post to blog share learn, a weekend blog hop at LivingWithBatman.com HERE