There isn’t much call for thatchers here in Jersey. We have plenty of lovely, traditional granite buildings but of thatched roofs there are no more than a handful.
So when five thatchers from Devon arrived in the island a couple of weeks ago, everybody sat up and took notice. Here at Hamptonne we have three historic farm buildings, two of which have thatched roofs. It is 20 years or so since they were last attended to. It was only as they got to work with their bright, golden straw that it could be seen how overdue the work was.
It was a surprise when they initially just tidied up the existing thatch and prepared to lay the new over it. The second surprise was the thickness of the new thatch.
The guys are a taciturn bunch. They don’t say much, but just get on with it, dawn till dusk, seven days a week though they finish a bit earlier on Sundays. We’ve had TV and radio up here filming and interviewing, reluctantly in the case of the boss thatcher. They just want to get on, finish the job and head home with a cheque in their back pocket.
Today they’re just about finishing off Hamptonne House, the former home of Laurens Hamptonne who was the first to acclaim Charles II as King when his father had his head chopped off. Shortly they’ll start on Langlois House assuming we can deal with swallow nests, bats and other impediments to work.