Glossary

ApronSingle sided section of thatch constructed as a half ridge to make good the joint under a chimney or window.
Arris RailSee tilting fillet.
Back FillingLaid above battens and under the main thatch, used to adjust the tilt or angle of reed or straw.
Barge BoardSolid vertical board used as an alternative to turned or cut gable end.
Barge or VergeThe finished edge of the thatch overhanging the Gable, also known as the Brow or Gable
Barrel GableSee rolled Gable.
Base CoatRoughly thatched coat over the rafters to straighten undulations and provide a sound base for the final coat.
BattensHorizontal strips of timberfixed to the rafters to prevent materials falling through and to aid fastening.
BedA random heap of thatching material from which straws are pulled to remove unwanted rubbish and ensure the stems are parallel. Drawn from yealms for either longstraw or for ridging.
BiddleWorking platform hooked into thatch and or battens instead of a ladder. Also know as a hanging ladder.
BinderOld machine used to cut thatching straw as part of the harvesting process.
Black ThatchHeather thatching – Mainly found around the Scottish borders.
Block RidgeA ridge applied to stand proud of the roofing thatch. Normally thatched in sedgeon a reed roof.
BottleSmall quantity of material tied at the small end, used for starting the angle needed for setting eaves and gables.
Box GutterLeaded gutterand associated flashing behind a chimney or protruding structurepassing through the roof, to maintain weatherproofing.
Brow CourseThe first course of material, after the eave wadd is put in, which sets the pitchof the roof and point of the eave.
BundleQuantity of thatching material, usually Water Reed approximately 24″(60cm).
ButtThe lower (cut) end of a bundle of straw or reed.
ButtingDressing the butt ends by dropping on to a hard clean surface. i.e. a butting board / spot board.
Butt-up RidgeMore common in the West country. This method fixes the butt ends pointing up to the apex of the roof, with the butts of the more exposed slope being slightly higher than those on the other slope
CheekSide of a window.
CoatLayer of entire thatch, sometimes over an existing roof.
CoatworkThe surface of the roof, same as “face.”
CobGenerally refers to buildings and boundary walls constructed with various earth-extracted materials. Mainly clay or chalk or mixtures of both in Hampshire. The walls are often rendered with early 19th century patented cements.
Combed WheatWheat straw which has been passed through a reed comber, a modification of a thrashing drum to mechanically straighten and clean out the unwanted leaf.
CourseA horizontal layer or reed or straw.
Crooks or HooksIron rods of various lengths from 200 to 300mm, pointed at one end and rounded at the other. The thatcher secures the thatch to the roof by laying sways across the straw or reed then using crooks to pin the sways to the rafters.
Cross RodsMainly Hazel rods split and used for fixing and ornamentation between liggers, patterns on the ridge and eave.
Cruck FramesOne of three main types of timber frame structures with curved timbers forming the main trusses of the house and support for the roof.
DressingDriving the material into final position by striking with a legget or drift.
DriftSee legget.
DutchmanType of legget originating from the Netherlands, so called as it is shaped like a clog.
EaveFirst course of thatching forming the outermost point.
Eyebrow WindowSmall window or eyelet, high in the wall necessitating a curve of the thatched eave over it to keep it functional.
FaceThe surface of the main roof.
FlashingCement or lead sheet fixed over the thatch and onto the brickwork at the chimney or wall abutments.
Flush RidgeA ridge applied to the same level as the roofing thatch. Found on long straw and combed wheat thatched roofs.
GableThe finished end of the thatch over hanging the gable end of a property.
GaddLength of Hazel wood before splitting into spars or liggers.
Half CoatTo thatch in any material over the existing thatch after it has been stripped to a reasonable level and re-fastened to the rafters if needed.
LeggetA wooden tool also known as a bat, beetle or dresser, used to drive combed wheat and water reed into position on the roof.
LiggersSplit Hazel or Willow rods used to form a decorative pattern on ridges and around the edge of long straw roofs.
Long StrawThreshed wheat straw prepared by hand. The straw is thrashed but not combed or combine harvested.
NeedleUsed to stitch on the thatch, an iron rod with an eye to apply stitching material around the sway and rafter/batten.
NettingGalvanised wire or polythene used to protect the thatch from bird damage.
Norfolk ReedWater Reed, Continental Reed, Reed (Phragmites australis). A member of the grass/bamboo family, ranging from 2 to 8 feet tall. Used for thatching purposes.
PitchThe angle of the roof- 45o is the accepted minimum for the roof pitch. 50o obviously considered better.
PinnacleA raised end of a ridge, gable or top point of a hip.
Pole RaftersWhole, straight, small tree trunks, found as main structural members in 18th century roof frames covered with thatch.
RidgeCapping on topmost part of the roof. It is a covering of supple straw or sedge grass, laid along the apex of the roof to bind and protect the main thatch:

Flush
A) Plain – Finished flush to the surface of the roof with minimal decoration.
B) Decorated – Crossed or herring bone pattern pieces, made with spars and liggers.Block
A) Straight cut 3″ – 4″ (100 – 200mm) thick cut straight line below bottom ligger.
B) Ornamental Cut – Cut or shaped to the desired pattern.

Other types include wrap-over, butt up, knuckle, rope.
Patterns include dragons teeth, diamond, scalloped, clubbed, herring- bone and crossed.

Ridge RollSausage like rolls of reed or straw100 – 200mm in diameter and of any suitable length, used to build up the ridge to a sharp apex prior to capping.
Ridge YealmA yealm of ridging material without pronounced taper at either end forming the topmost part of the ridge.
Rolled GableThe main roof continues round the gable end and is fixed with liggers.
Rye StrawThreshed and used now mainly for ridging.
SaddleThe junction of a ridge with a main coat.
Screw FixingA screw attached to a stainless steel wire is fixed into the battens and the wire fastened to the sway.
Sedge(Cladium mariscus) Used for capping a Water Reed Roof.
SetSee Course.
Set PinPointed length of steel used to temporarily hold materials with a cross piece at the top to hold sways.
SheafBundle of crops as cut from the field by binder or hand – 8 sheafs make a stook, 16 make a stock.
SkirtThe lowest courses of a ridge thickened at the butt when used as a cut pattern roof.
Spar CoatSee Half Coat.
SparsSplit Hazel or Willow sticks sharpened at each end and twisted in the middle to form a staple. Spars are used to secure new thatch to an existing roof.
Spot BoardBoard for ‘butting up’ of reed bundles. See Butt.
SquareTraditional measurement for the area of a thatched roof (10ft x 10ft).
StaunchThatching in a verticle strip up the roof rather than horizontally as in course mainly Long Straw.
StoolA Clump of growing Hazel.
SwaysSplit or round rods made of Hazel, willow or steel used with spars or iron crooks to secure thatch over coats or to rafters horizontally in parallel with the line of the eaves.
SweepThe forming of a valley.
Tarred CordStrong cord treated with Stockholm tar. Synthetics are also used but tying is rare as a permanent fixture, when used the sway is tied to the rafter or batten or no sway is used.
Thatching NailsSee Crooks.
ThrashingMethods of removing grain from straw manually or mainly mechanically now in a thrashing drum.
Tilting FilletTimber used at the eave and gable to start the roof off at the right angle to ensure correct tension is started on the roof. Frequently triangular – usually 4″ x 4″ or 4″ x 3″ cut diagonally.
TwistersUsed for twisting wire ties around a sway or rod when fixing thatch to roof.
VergeSee Gable.
WaddSmall bundle of material to continue the action of the tilting fillet.
Water Reed(Phragmites Communis) now reclassified as Phragmites australis obtained traditionally from East Anglia now additionally from other countries around the world.
WithyWillow used for rods, sways and spars.
YealmA prepared drawn arm full of Long straw or Sedge 14″ – 18″ (350-450mm) wide and 4″ (100mm) thick. Used like a thick roof tile.