An image of a thatched roof

Example of a thatched roof. © Historic England
Example of a thatched roof. © Historic England

Thatching Advice

Thatch is a traditional roofing material in many parts of England. It has rich regional traditions that contribute to the local distinctiveness of vernacular buildings. Thatch also has important archaeological value; for example, in some roofs medieval thatch survives below more recent layers.

Historic England encourages the conservation of traditional thatch and seeks to:

  • Recognise regional diversity
  • Conserve the character of historic buildings and areas
  • Protect material of archaeological importance
  • Sustain traditional materials, techniques and skills

However, conserving traditional thatch is a challenge; there are occasional shortages of good quality materials; some thatchers prefer to use imported materials and methods rather than home-grown thatch prepared and applied in the traditional way; and the understanding and skills required to conserve traditional thatch are slowly being lost. In addition, there is sometimes confusion about the need for listed building consent when a change of thatching material or technique is proposed.

Historic England is developing technical advice on thatch and thatching, which we will be consulting on later this year. In the meantime, information about the history, deterioration and repair of traditional thatch is included in the Historic England volume Roofing in the Practical Building Conservation series, and advice on the general principles to take into account when considering the repair or alteration of a historic thatched roof are included in Historic England Advice Note 2, Making Changes to Heritage Assets.


Published 2 December 2013

This volume, Roofing, looks at traditional roof coverings used on historic buildings.

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Making Changes to Heritage Assets

Published 25 February 2016

Advice Note 2 - this document illustrates the application of the policies set out in the NPPF in determining applications for planning permission and listed building consent, as well as other non-planning heritage consents, including scheduled monument consent.

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