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Historic England & National Thatching Straw Growers Association Thatch Supply Research

Front cover for Historic England & National Thatching Straw Growers Association Thatch supply research

Project 6220

By Stephen Letch, Project Officer

This research was designed to answer claims that English-grown straw thatching does not last and is outperformed by imported water reed. In the last few decades many contentious claims and myths have been voiced over this issue, with the result that a great deal of important historic thatch and distinctive local traditions have been lost.

  • The first Work Package (WP1) of the trials has been completed
  • The growing trials have been successfully completed using a range of old and modern varieties of wheat and different growing regimes
  • The results provide very useful information into how each one performs and answers some of the myths that have been built up about the performance of locally grown straw and its suitability for thatching
  • Facsimile roofs have been thatched using each of the straw varieties and once these have been sited and erected. The report proposes a second Work Package for longer-term monitoring of the performance of the facsimile roofs (WP2)
  • The research method established by this project can now be applied to other areas of England where different types and methods of thatching are deployed

The National Thatching Straw Growers Association carried out the research in cooperation with Historic England.


  • Executive summary
  • Background
  • Headline findings
  • Review and conclusions
  • Summary of the two year thatching straw crop growing trials, WP1:
    1. Plant establishment for harvest 2013 and 2014
    2. Crop/straw quality comparisons of harvest 2013 and 2014
    3. Conclusion on how the wheat varieties compared by harvest time
    4. Conclusions gained from the thatching crop trials
  • Additional comments: fungal decay of straw 'models' in the field and on the roof

Additional Information

  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 17


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