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Paul Heiney - The last thatched cottages

Features | By Paul Heiney

In 20 years, the basic material of the thatcher’s craft will be unobtainable

Thatched cottages are an endangered species, laments Paul Heiney – who used to grow thatching straw

With great sadness, the imminent death has been announced of the thatched cottage. Weep now, all you chocolate-box illustrators and prepare to look elsewhere for inspiration. Historic England say the thatched cottage has 20 years left, at the most. After that, thatchers will no longer be able to obtain the basic raw material of their craft – straw. If your weekend rural drive takes you past endless fields of golden wheat, you might think we grow enough straw to thatch a city twice over. But thatching straw is special straw, a prince among the common throng of feeble, weaker, shorter straws beloved of modern farming, and it is in increasingly short supply. ...

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