Originally from Switzerland, Nico and Liliane Saas-fee have settled happily with their four sons, in a large 16th century thatched cottage here in rural Hampshire. Included in the grounds are several meadows, a tennis court, and a croquet lawn.
Every twenty years or so the straw that is used to thatch the roof of this beautiful cottage has to be replaced, and right now in the chilly month of February this process is well underway.
The thatching process is undertaken by attaching yealms, basically bundles of specially grown straw, to the roof with spars. The spars are twisted pieces of hazel wood which when pushed into the yealm hold the bundle in place. Although this sounds quite simple, Thatching is a specialized skill that has been passed down from generation to generation.
There is an interesting story that goes with this particular cottage. During The English Civil War between the Parliamentarian Armies of Oliver Cromwell (known as Roundheads) and Soldiers loyal to King Charles 1st (known as Cavaliers), there was a large battle near Newbury in the year 1644.
The town of Newbury lies just to the north of Hampshire in the county of Berkshire. The Cavaliers at this battle were largely defeated but two escaped hotly pursued by a band of Roundheads.
The kindly farmers wife loyal to the King and sympathetic to the plight of the two Cavaliers hid them in the loft behind a concealed door in the oak paneling in the cottage above whilst the Roundheads searched the village. Their lives were saved.
These days English Civil war battles are re-enacted by a society called the sealed knot.To find out more about thatching go to The guild of straw craftsmen click:http://www.strawcraftsmen.co.uk/finials.php To find out more about the sealed knot click:http://www.thesealedknot.org.uk/index.asp
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