Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 24°C

min temp: 14°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Gallery: Thatcher Trevor Death returns to Mead Cottage in Stoke by Nayland - the first ever property he worked on as an apprentice 30 years ago

12:32 15 August 2014

Trevor Death is currently thatching the house in Stoke by  Nayland that was his very first job as an apprentice 32 years ago.

Trevor Death is currently thatching the house in Stoke by Nayland that was his very first job as an apprentice 32 years ago.

A fourth generation thatcher has returned to the cottage in south Suffolk that he first worked on as his grandfather’s apprentice more than 30 years ago.

Trevor Death, 56, said he could still recognise his master’s handiwork on the roof of Mead Cottage in Stoke by Nayland as he removed the ageing straw and repeated the same intricate process all over again.

Though decades have passed since he first learned the craft as a teenage apprentice to his father John and grandfather Burt, the skills remain very much the same.

“Nothing much has changed,” said Mr Death.

“It’s more or less the same job as it’s always been – you cannot really change it.”

Trevor Death is currently thatching the house in Stoke by  Nayland that was his very first job as an apprentice 32 years ago.Trevor Death is currently thatching the house in Stoke by Nayland that was his very first job as an apprentice 32 years ago.

Mead Cottage, he recalls, was one of the very first large jobs he was entrusted to carry out chiefly on his own, with only occasional supervision from his grandfather.

It is noted as a fine example of thatching and Mr Death says its unique challenges make it a pleasure to work on.

Unlike most thatchers, who now use reed as their material of choice, Mr Death prefers the more traditional choice of straw, which he grows himself, as all commercial varieties of wheat are too short for thatching.

From eight acres of land near Polstead, Mr Death yields about eight tonnes of straw, which is more than enough for the one or two cottages he tends to re-thatch each year. A major job, such as Mead Cottage, will use about a tonne and a half, and will take more than half a year to complete.

Trevor Death is currently thatching the house in Stoke by  Nayland that was his very first job as an apprentice 32 years ago.Trevor Death is currently thatching the house in Stoke by Nayland that was his very first job as an apprentice 32 years ago.

Also sourced locally are the hazel spars, which Mr Death coppices each December and uses to pin the straw in place.

The straw is first wetted down, before being gathered together in even length yealms (bundles of straw) and placed tightly on top of one another until the roof is about 16 inches thick.

Further layers are then added to provide the characteristic ridges on the roof’s edges and sheep shears are used to cut it into shape.

Although it has been 40 years since he first learned the craft, Mr Death says each new roof still offers its own interesting challenges and special features to work with.

Although the profession has passed down the family line for at least four successive generations, starting from Mr Death’s grandfather’s step-father, he is likely to be the last to carry on the tradition as neither of his children have learned the skill.

John Prescott, 68, the owner of Mead Cottage, has watched Mr Death’s progress with interest over the past nine months.

“I’m all for it,” he said.

“These old county crafts need to be supported and carried on if possible.

“It’s particularly nice that he grows his own straw, it’s just as it used to be – a self sustaining economy.”

Search hundreds of local jobs at Jobs24

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other East Anglian Daily Times visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by East Anglian Daily Times staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique East Anglian Daily Times account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Giffords Hall Vineyard feature. Including the use of drone technology to measure crop yield. Pictured is owner Linda Howard.

Vineyard owners in Suffolk and Essex say their industry has grown so quickly over recent years that the region may soon follow famous French appellations in seeking protected status for its wines.

European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager speaking during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels.
Photo: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

Technology giant Apple has vowed to overturn a record 13bn euro (£11.1bn) bill after a European Commission ruling that it has an illegal “sweetheart” tax deal in Ireland.

The newly rebranded Fenwick store, previously Williams & Griffin, in Colchester.

Colchester’s new-look Fenwick department store is to be officially unveiled on September 15 following a £35m redevelopment.

12-20 Upper Orwell Street, which could be demolished and regenerated if plans by the East of England Co-op go through

A derelict building in Upper Orwell Street which has been empty for decades could be set for demolition if new plans for the area are approved.

A Claydon hybrid drill in action.

Suffolk-based Claydon Drills, the European market leader in strip seeding technology, has appointed Thurlow Nunn Standen to handle sales and service of Claydon Hybrid drills, TerraStar cultivators and Cambridge Rolls in Suffolk and Norfolk and parts of north Essex and Cambridgeshire.

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24