Within the Picturesque Village of Ashby St Ledgers

By Sarah Green

Within the picturesque village of Ashby St Ledgers, a small but significant jewel in its crown, sits a terrace of Edwin Lutyens cottages at last now proudly standing in their wonderful re-thatched glory.

Built in 1908 , it is unclear as to the date of the last re-thatch but it is believed that this could have been done 50 years ago. There were few clues to be found within the rafters other than an old cigarette packet and a newspaper from the 30s. There was, however, evidence of a fire that had happened many years ago in the form of a very charred main beam.

The works were bravely undertaken by a great, young team led by Paul Wareing of Heart of England Master Thatchers Ltd, a bunch of real characters who worked relentlessly over six months, enduring — not surprisingly perhaps for a job of this size — some pretty extreme weather conditions and, I dare say, a few headaches, frustrations and the odd sleepless night.

This, coupled with the strict conservational issues of listed properties that needed addressing, made the task all the more complex. Thankfully, Paul handled most of this on the residents’ behalf, ensuring the authenticity and accuracy of all materials sourced, the method used for thatching and keeping council officials informed of any pertinent issues.

The team were helped along the way by a handful of visiting thatchers from different parts of the country who, through the thatching grapevine, had heard about the job and were keen to be part of it even if only for a couple of days. They demonstrated real skill and craftsmanship, and were always happy to stop and explain the processes and answer the questions of the many interested visitors, particularly the children from school trips that frequent the village because of its historical interest. It was a joy to see them sitting on the grass verges opposite, eating their packed lunches, watching intently the works in progress.

All thatchings, ridge work, flashings, pointing of all chimneys, removal of scaffolding and debris was completed right on schedule (before the wintry weather made an appearance) and the end result is a delight for all to see now — and hopefully for another 50 years! In short, a job well done. With our grateful thanks from all the residents to Heart of England Master Thatchers Ltd.