The storms of January and February 2014 will be remembered in Cornwall for a long time – and although we were fortunate at Bosinver to avoid any flooding or major storm damage due to our sheltered position, the severe winds did take a toll on our Farmhouse holiday cottage thatch.
Our usual Thatcher Mike Pawluk recently retired so we invited Hugo Pyett, who has taken over from Mike, to come and do some repairs for us. Hugo is a Master Thatcher, fully versed in all aspects of thatching and associated building work. His training was funded by the Traditional Skills Bursary Scheme – a partnership of English Heritage, The National Trust, Construction Skills Council and others. Visitors may have seen some other of Mike and Hugo’s handiwork on the Garden Shelter at the National Trust’s Trelissick Gardens, the Wheel Inn at Tresillian and the Jungle Hut at Paradise Park, Hayle.
Hugo was assisted for the Farmhouse thatch by Katy Cornish who undertook an NVQ in thatching through a Skills For The Future Bursary. Katy previously worked for the East Sussex Archaeological and Museums partnership, building and thatching roundhouses using ancient technologies. It was interesting to hear from Hugo and Katy that, in addition to the physical aspect of the work, much of the thatcher’s skill is problem solving – figuring out creative solutions to issues.
The actual equipment used probably hasn’t changed much over the centuries and it was amazing to see some of the old courses of reed exposed as Hugo and Katy stripped back the areas to be re-thatched.
The two main types of material used in thatching are Combed Wheat Reed and Water Reed – in Cornwall Combed Wheat Reed is more traditional. Where possible a base coat of old thatch is left and a new coat is “sparred” on top a new coat on top using using hazel spars. If you are interested in thatching there is a very informative website which details the process here – including an explanation of terms such as ‘bottles’.
Hugo and Katy first prepared the reed from the bundles – tying some with pink string indicating they were straight edged bundles to be used for the eaves and blue string for the angled edged reed bundles to be used in the gables. A head for heights was definitely needed as Hugo and Katy carried up the bundles to the rooftop – the scaffolding gave amazing views over the Farmhouse garden and beyond.
We’re sure our guests agree that Hugo and Katy did a beautiful job on the thatch. If you would like the chance to stay in our historic Farmhouse – great for groups of friends or family as it sleeps up to 12, the next opportunity will be the end of August when we have a special offer of 7 nights for £1965 (that’s less than £25 per person per night!).
It’s a fantastic time to visit Cornwall too, as the Falmouth Tall Ships Regatta is on and so are Kneehigh Theatre at the Lost Gardens of Heligan. For more details of the Farmhouse see the Stay section of our website.