Views 985 at April – 21 – 2013
Featured in RB Explore Photography Page July – 01 – 2012
Parc Naturel Régional des Boucles de la Seine Normande
HDR processed in Photomatix Pro 3.1.3 from a single RAW image, then processed using CS4 – no tripod used
The Thatched Cottage Road
A symbol of the rural dwelling…How does one define a thatched cottage ? At first sight it is
merely a thatched roof dwelling, many of which can still be seen in Normandy.Through misuse of the term thatch, and the common perception of such buildings as typical country dwellings, the thatched cottage has become synonymous with Norman rurality and particularly with half timbered houses.
…the quintessential image
of traditional Normandy
Just as it is a symbol of the rural house it is also the quintessential image of traditional Normandy. This theme was initially exploited by the advertising of early tourism and literature
also played its part portraying an ambiguous vision of reality.For some, a tidy, cosy little nest as
described by local writer Hector Malot : “within the confines of its private orchard, the small peasant’s cottage appears charming and cosy, or at least
in excellent state of repair. The thatched roof, the ridge of which is crowned with small flowers sprouting green leaves, is without the slightest blemish ; the walls, with their exposed
timbers infilled with wattle and daube are carefully painted, the wood black, the clay filling mixed with lime and straw, in such a way that the whiteness in contrast to the dark wood framing it, imbues the building with a luminous quality in the heart of
the intensely green surroundings.
No manure in sight, just a chicken coop, and cow shed, each connected by paths where the grass is worn short by dailyvisits-
Chaumière (Thatched Cottage)
Imagine a roof made entirely of vegetable matter : that is the originality of thatch ! On the flat arable plains, wheat or rye straw was the usual
thatching material and in the marshy valleys along the Seine, reed was used. Today, reed is the favoured material in all areas, and is traditionally cut in winter before being dried and bound into sheaves.Thatching requires reeds which are young and of small diameter.
The thatcher first lays a cover of hazel strips onto the roof timbers. This is called the “clayonnage” and is the surface onto which the sheaves of reed or straw are fixed. The thatcher starts at the base of the roof and works up.This is the traditional method in Normandy. The sheaves which are 25 cm in diameter are layed side by side with
the ear of the straw, or the reed head, facing skywards and traditionally are bound together using wicker or rye grass. Today galvanised wire is commonly used for this task. In this way, starting from the bottom, a solid base is formed
on which the rest of the thatch is supported and the
thickness of the entire thatched roof determined. The thatcher works progressively towards the apex of the roof,packing the sheaves of reed, beating them tightly with a baton and cutting at intervals with shears to control length and neatness of surface. The job is completed by binding
the sheaves to one another and sealing the apex of
the roof with clay which is planted with irises, the roots of which reinforce the earth apex and provide the required level of humidity.
Lastly, the thatcher cuts narrow drainage canals, and “combs” the thatch. The slope of the roof needs to be steep, about 55 to 60°, to allow easy drainage of rain water.It was often recommended that thatching be replaced at intervals of 18 years. However, thatched roofs last much longer in theory, 30 to 40 years for wheat or rye straw, and up to half a century for reed.
Nikon D 300 – Sigma 24-70