Letter: Reeders' response

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The Independent Online
Sir: The master thatcher from Skye is quite mistaken in stating that there are probably no thatched buildings left from medieval times (Letters, 31 July). In Devon there are literally hundreds of farmhouses where the bottom layer of thatch has never been replaced and dates from the period 1375-1550, still smoke-blackened from the time when the houses were open to the roof timbers and heated from an open-hearth fire, before chimney stacks were inserted.

Quite apart from the historic and aesthetic issues, eloquently raised by the Conservation Officer in Lanark (Letters, 31 July), one of the problems associated with replacing wheat reed with water reed is that, all too often, the old thatch is stripped back to the battens, destroying the medieval and early modern layers that previously survived undisturbed.

Many Devon thatchers are well aware of the presence of medieval thatch, are careful not to damage it when rethatching, and keen to use wheat reed, in spite of the present difficulties in getting hold of good- quality material. It is a pity that their colleagues in other areas are less well informed.

Yours faithfully,

JO COX

JOHN THORP

Exeter

31 July

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