Previous Index Next
Page 235
(previous) (Page 000235) (next)

From the foregoing survey it is possible to classify our usual
English straw thatch as of Germanic type, but modified by the
influences of insular isolation, and the roofing methods of Celts and

About the thatcher himself very little information is available.
The thatchers do not appear to have formed any gilds or companies
like the masons and the carpenters, and the reason may be that
thatching was never thoroughly specialised. The Nova Legenda
A nglie, under the year I 374, mention ‘one Alan, surnamed “Waste-
lare,” of \Vainfleet, a coverer (‘cooperator’) of houses with different
kinds of material.’ Mr Laurence A. Turner has written of a crafts-
man at Barsham, near Beccles, in East Anglia, who called himself
‘thatcher and dauber,’ as his father and grandfather had done
before him‘. ‘Unfortunately for him,’ says Mr Turner, ‘the county
council’s by-laws do not allow him to practise his craft as' dauber,
so that he has to fall back entirely upon thatching for his means of
livelihood,’ but here again the building bye-laws restrict his work.
At the church of Barsham, a thick coating of clay was found under-
neath the reed thatch. In these two instances, the one from the
fourteenth century and the other from the nineteenth, the thatcher
was also a wall-maker, and his relationship is shown with the
wattle-worker; we are carried back to a time when the crafts as
well as the parts of the building itself had not become specialised.
A thatcher and his assistant are mentioned in the thirteenth
century, but it does not therefore follow that they did nothing but
thatch roofs of buildings. ‘Thacker’ and ‘thackster’ were old
forms of thatcher: both mean ‘roofer.’

The thatcher’s appetite was proverbially large and Best said
that thatchers had (in most places) Sixpence a day and their food
in summer, and in the shortest days of winter fourpence per day
and their food : but he never gave above fourpence per day because
the diet was different. He gave them breakfast at eight o’clock,
dinner at noon, and supper at seven, and at each meal ‘fowre
services.’ If they provided their own meals they were paid ten-
pence per day. As already mentioned, Best provided, and also
paid, two women to help the thatcher.

Best said that ‘Many will (after a geastinge manner) call the
thatcher “ hang strawe,” and say to him—

1 ‘ Decorative l’lasterwork ’ in The A rt: Connertea' wit/z Building, p. 172.

Previous Index Next