Regional traditions

As a craft carried out using local materials by craftsmen who worked within the locality, thatching developed regional styles.

These distinctions have diminished through variability in the quality and availability of materials. Whereas long straw would have traditionally been the dominant thatching material throughout England, the availability, cost and alleged durability of water reed has resulted in its prolific use since the second half of the 20th century.

As a potentially more economic material, water reed is favoured by some thatchers and homeowners.  However, it is not a traditional practice to overcoat water reed onto existing thatch. This practice is a legacy from 1970s when water reed was used as an alternative replacement to prematurely decaying straw that was being grown at the time. As it would be more likely to slip, it would not be recommended to overcoat with water reed on the steeper pitched roofs, such as those from the Midlands to East Anglia. From a conservation perspective, a change of material on listed buildings would require Listed Building Consent before any work could take place.

Numerous local authorities have produced guidance about their regional thatching styles. Links to these can be found in Further Information.

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