Spring is here, and has brought with it the exciting rejuvenation of the thatch on the oldest part of the Hundred House Hotel, the beautiful 15th century barn.This is part of ongoing restoration of this historic building, which began in 1986 when the Phillips family undertook the task of creating their hotel, restaurant and beautiful gardens.
I was lucky enough to be able to grab a few moments with master thatcher of 16 years, Paul Draycott, to find out a little more about his craft.
As a novice to the world of thatch,it surprised me that the material used is not straw,but water reed, sourced from East Anglia, or further afield as demand dictates. Water Reed is a naturally water resistant material, which has been used for centuries to protect homes and other dwellings from the elements.
To create a traditional thatched roof, the thatcher lays bundles, of up to 6 foot in length, on top of each other to create an impenetrable layer. The final roof is around 12 inches thick, and relies on the forces of gravity to help the ensure the wind, rain and snow to flow down the thatch.
The completed thatch will last around 40 years, so Paul does not expect to have to return, other than to carry out scheduled maintenance to the ridge, which will happen around every ten years. Paul works all over the region , sometimes driving for over two hours to reach a location. This creates some amusement for his associates in the South West, who have a short walk to their daily labours, so Paul finds working near to his home town a welcome change. Paul estimates that his work here will take around six weeks, and as you can see it is pretty close to completion.
The last part of the thatch will be Paul’s signature pheasant, which he uses to identify his work…..you can spot them around the county, recent locations include a boat house in Himley, and a cottage in nearby Ackleton.
Hundred House Time Capsule
To add a little Hundred House flair, and to add even more history to this beautiful building, the team have created a time capsule, which is secured in the roof, ready to be opened at the next replacement in forty years time. The capsule includes memories of significant events, alongside details of the day to day running of the hotel, which will delight future generations of the Phillips family,and their guests as well as providing a little surprise for the next thatcher !
“Ta-da…….The Finished Article!”
……..and two Pheasants, mates for the next 40 odd years!
Spring has also brought excitement in the gardens. Alongside the beautiful blooms in the pots and borders, the Hundred House has it’s very own frog nursery! They are already delighting guests who are taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather.
Spring really has sprung!