Previous Index Next
Page 208
(previous) (Page 000208) (next)
 
194 THATCHING [cu

they record a payment of 23. Id. for helping to draw straw and
for carrying water at the same time. Best’s second woman helper
carried up the ‘bottles ’ to the thatcher on the roof, and Sir H. R.
Haggard, writing of Norfolk, says that at the present time for
quick thatching, three hands are required, one to make ready
the bands and broaches, one to carry the bundles of straw up the
ladder, and one to lay and fasten theml. In the West of England
the preparation of the straw for thatch is called ‘yelming,’ from
the Anglo-Saxon word ‘ gilm,’ a handful. We have seen that this
work was done with a comb in Gloucestershire a century ago: in
Bedfordshire it was done by drawing the straw forcibly under the
foot: in Devon and Somerset it was done sometimes by a power-
driven machine called a reed-maker, which combed out the short and
bruised stalks: in Dorset it was pulled through a frame, and this
was called ‘ reed-drawing.’ Richard Jefferies wrote of a Wiltshire
thatcher that he ‘is attended by a man to carry up the “yelms,”
and two or'three women are busy “ yelming,” that is, separating the
straw, selecting the longest, and laying it level and parallel, damping
it with water, and preparing it for the yokes2.’ At Winslade, in
Hampshire, according to the Rev. A. Kelly, M.A., , the wet
straw was drawn out in long handfuls called ‘yelms’ and this
was often done by the thatcher’s wife“, as was also the case in
the Middle Ages, according to Professor Thorold Rogers‘. At
Winslade a dozen ‘yelms’ were placed in the thatching ‘fork,’
made of two sticks fastened in the shape of a‘ V, and when full of
straw tied with a piece of string on the top, and carried up by the
thatcher on his shoulders. At present, in North Leicestershire, the
thatcher himself prepares the straw, wetting it and picking out the
short pieces, and he carries it up to the roof in his apron. Henry
Best recorded that the server carried up four bottles at a time, but
if the straw was very wet and long she only took up three bottles :
they were tied together and carried up by an old halter or a piece
of old broken tether, and the thatcher, who began like a Slater, at
the eaves, stuck ‘doune’ his needles, one at a little distance from
another, ‘ thereon to lay the bottles when the server bringeth them
up.’ In Norfolk the bundle of straw is faStened and carried on the
roof by a rope, and it rests temporarily against broaches, which
1 A Farmer’s Year, p. 283. 2 "/2711 Life in a Soul/zen: County, chap. VI.

3 The Winslade thatch was described by Mr Kelly in the C/mrelz Mont/11y, 1900,
pp. 205—8 and pp. 24l-2. 4 Six Centuries 1y“ Work and Wages, p. 235.

Previous Index Next