Glossary

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A

Apron
The layer of thatch directly beneath a window or chimney. Also known as a skirt.

Arris
Rail – see ‘Tilt’.

B

Baby
(Long Straw) – see ‘Roller’.

Back filling
Laid above battens and under main thatch, used to adjust the tilt of reed or straw.

Band/Bond
Twist of straw, reed withy or bramble used to tie a bundle of thatch to roof
.

Barge
See ‘Gable’.

Barge board
Solid board used as an alternative to turned gable.

Base coat
The bottom coat of thatch. May sometimes comprise smoke-blackened thatch.

Batting/Bolting
Bundle of tied, threshed straw
.

Biddle
Working platform hooked into thatch
.

Binder
See ‘Rod’ and ‘Sway’.

Binder
Reaper for cutting standing corn

Bolder Reed
Norfolk Reed bundle containing mostly bulrush
.

Bottle
Tied yealm of straw for setting eave of gable

Box Gutter
Leaded gutter formed behind chimney

Brotch/Broach
See ‘Spar’.

Brow
The first course up from the eaves formed by the bundles. The finished edge of thatch overhanging a gable.

Bunch
Bundle of water reed 2′ circumference, 1′ above butt, usually at the tie
.

Butt
Thicker end of a bundle of reed or straw.


Butting
Arranging the ends of the reed by dropping bundles or nitches onto board.

C

Cheek
Side of window.


Chimney Block
See ‘Apron’
.

Coat
Layer of entire thatch
.

Cock Up/Cockscomb
Topmost bundle of straw turned to shed water back onto the ridge.

Combed wheat reed
Straw which has been combed to remove the corn, leaf and weed.

Continental Bundle
Imported bundle of water reed 1m around circumference or butt, usually tied twice
.

Compty
Substandard materials or thatch.

Coppicing or coppice
Woodland management whereby trees are regularly cut to encourage growth of adventitious shoots.

Course
A horizontal layer of reed or straw laid along a roof
.

Crook
See ‘Iron’.

D

Devon reed
A vernacular name for combed wheat reed.

Dolly
See ‘Roller’ and ‘Bottle’.

Drawing
The technique of pulling stems from a heap of material and aligning them. Used to form yealms for use in long straw.

Dressing
Pushing reed into final position.


Drift
See ‘Legget’
.

Dutchman
A round shaped Leggett for shaping valleys.

E

Eave
First course of thatch at the lowest, overhanging part of a roof.

F

Fathom
Six bundles of water reed
.

Flue
See ‘Gable’
.

Fargle
A goodly handful of steel sways
.

Feather
Seed head on water reed
Flag: Leaf on straw.

Flashing
Lead or mortar fillet, fitted at the apex or junction between the thatch and an architectural element of a relatively impervious material. The flashing provides additional protection from precipitation.

Fleaking/fleeking
A weave of water reed laid over the rafters instead of timber battens.

G

Gable
The overhang of thatch at a gable of the roof
.

Gadd
Cut length of hazel between 1″ and 3″ in diameter
.

Gaddule
Bundle of gadds.

H

Hazel (Corylus aveliana)
Used for spars, sways and rods – said to be hardier than withy
.

Hook
See ‘Iron’.

I

Iron
Thatching nail with a hooked head used to secure thatch directly to the rafters by clasping the sway. Traditionally this was only used in difficult positions on the roof, but now they are routinely used.

K

Knuckle
Handful of straw, bent double.

L

Ladder
Types Pole. Push-up and Hanger.

Leggat/ legget
a grooved tool that grips the ends of the combed wheat reed or reed and dresses them into position. This is often wooden and ridged for combed wheat reed and metal with ‘cups’ for reed.

Ligger
See ‘Rod’
.

Lodging
The flattening of crops in the field by the action of wind and rain.

Long Straw
Straw thrashed but not combed.

N

Net
A ¾” galvanised wire or ¾” polythene used to protect thatch from bird damage
.

Needle
Used to stitch on the thatch
.

Nitch
Bundle of combed reed of weight 28lb or 14lb.

Norfolk reed
Vernacular term for water reed.

Northampton Roll
Rolled and rodded gable end.

P

Peg
See ‘Spar’
.

Pinacle
Topmost bundle of ridging material used to shed water back onto the ridge
.

Pricker
Length of gadd about a yard long, used to fix sways on rick thatches.

R

Reeding Pin
See ‘Spragger’
.

Ridge
Covering of supple straw or sedge grass, laid along apex of roof to bind and protect the main thatch. Types include wrap-over, butt up, flush, straight cut and patterned. Patterns include dragons’ teeth, diamond, scalloped, clubbed, herring-bone and crossed.

Ridge Roll
When the ridge level needs to be higher a ridge roll is used. This is a tight bundle used to build up the height prior to the finishing layer.

Roller
Continuous parallel bundle of thatch used to build up ridge
.

Rod
Made of hazel, willow/withy, used in conjunction with spars to hold down thatch on the surface. Types include split, unsplit, apex, kettle and muff.

Rutland Cap
Peaked end at gable
.

Rye
Type of soft straw used for thatching.

S

Saddle
This is the section at a junction between the main roof coat and a lower ridge.

Sedge
Marsh Grass (Cladius mariscus) used for ridging
.

Server
Skilled labourer
.

Set
See ‘Tilt’.

Sheaf
Bundle of unthrashed straw – 8 sheaves make a stook, 16 make a stock
.

Skirt
See ‘apron.’ The layer of thatch out of which a pattern is cut into. This may be either surrounding the chimney or run along a block ridge.

Slapping
First course of ridge.

Spar
A split length of hazel or withy, pointed and twisted to form a staple to hold sways or liggers.

Spar coat
A new layer of thatch attached to an existing one using spars and sways.

Spit
See ‘Spar’
.

Spot Board
Board for ‘butting up’ of reed bundles
.

Spragger
Pointed length of steel used to temporarily hold materials
.

Springing
See ‘Tilt’.

Stalch
A strip of thatch worked from eave to ridge
.

Standing Crop
The thatching materials whilst growing.

Stob
A small plug of new thatch material inserted in a roof. Called stobbing or stinging.

Stool
Clump of Hazel.

Straw
All types of straw which may be used to thatch. Wheat straw is considered most suitable
Straw bond: a length of straw twisted to form a rope and fastned horizontally with spars to secure thatch in place.

Sway
Steel or hazel rod used with irons to secure thatch.

T

Thrashing
Method of removing grain from straw.

Tilt
The angle formed by tightening the sway between the top and the butt of the reed
.

Tilting Fillet
A ‘V’ section of timber fixed to the rafter to set the tilt
.

Triticale
a hybrid wheat and rye variety used for thatching.

Twisle
A crank for twisting straw for grass bonds.

V

Valley
The intersection between two sloping surfaces of a roof, towards which water flows.

Verge
See ‘Barge’.

W

Wadd
See ‘Bottle’
.

Wand
Length of unsplit willow or hazel, less than 1″ diam
.

Water Reed
Phragmites australis obtained traditionally from East Anglia now additionally from European countries.

Wimble
See ‘Twisle’

.

Withy
Willow used for rods and sways.

Y

Yealm
Drawn and wet straw ready for laying.

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