Thatched roofs may seem completely different from the tiled roofs we are used to seeing in this era, but they still require regular maintenance and upkeep to make sure they are in good condition and are watertight. Just as you might need new roof tiles, or work done to extend the life of a tiled roof, so to do thatched roofs.
Thatched roofs are watertight and great for keeping the heat in but are made from natural materials such as straw and water reed. On their own, they can last around 20 years before the whole roof would need to be disposed of and replaced. However, if we do regular maintenance on it, it can be extended for many, many years. This includes stripping off the top layer of thatch and replacing it every few years, which is what has recently been done at Mill Hill. If the top layer is kept in good condition, then it protects the layers beneath.
The ridge can often be a good indicator of whether a thatched roof needs maintenance, as if shrinks and flattens it generally means that the thatch is due for work. Work should always be done by an experienced and skilled thatcher who understands and appreciates the specific requirements of a thatch.
Our rethatch at Mill Hill was done by Stewart Alexander, a master thatcher of Lincolnshire throughout October and November in 2020.
The start of the rethatch
The final day. All complete.
As part of the ongoing maintenance, we have also had a number of surgeries done on the nearby trees to keep them under control. This is because the branches can block sunlight getting to the thatch, stopping it from drying out and ultimately shortening the life of the top layers. In addition to this, when Autumn comes, the leaves can fall onto the straw and decompose there, keeping it damp and fostering the growth of vegetation directly on the thatch. Therefore, it is always best practice to ensure that any encroaching trees or large bushes are kept well back from the building.