In Search of Thatched Cottages

As we arrived in Broad Campden, a thatched roof could be spotted on the right.

Before coming to England and spending time in Blockley nothing said “English country village” to me more than a thatched cottage. While there appears to be none in our village, we did spot a few of these cottages as we passed through the village of Broad Campden on our way to Chipping Campden a few weeks ago, so when we finally got a break in the weather this past week we headed over to check them out.

Although it is possible to walk from Blockley to Broad Campden via the Heart of England Way, because of all the recent rain there had been (and the resulting mud) we chose to go over to the village by bus, and then take a shorter walk between the two Campdens, and catch the bus home from Chipping Campden. If we’ve learned nothing else in the past two weeks it’s that the weather can change quickly here – a sunny day can suddenly turn cloudy, cold and rainy in a matter of a few minutes, and vice versa and we did not want to get stuck if rain appeared again.

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Broad Campden was an absolutely beautiful little village full of pretty homes and cottages, a small but lovely church, and a Quaker meeting house that’s been used since the mid-17th century. As my father and his family were/are Quakers, I was especially interested in seeing this place. Other than one pub, there are no other businesses in the village. We spent approximately an hour after we arrived walking through the village.

And yes, we did discover thatched cottages, several of them. All of them appeared to have been plucked from a storybook.

At noon we headed to Baker’s Arms pub for lunch. The pub has been operating since the 17th century and is one of the local pubs our host recommended we try. Brett ordered a tuna sandwich on whole-grain bread for his lunch, while I chose a traditional ploughman’s lunch, with ham, cheddar, beets, Branston pickle, pickled onions, salad, and bread. The lunch was once again huge, much more than I expected, and I did my best to finish as much as I could.

The Baker’s Arms sits in the middle of Broad Campden.
The pub has been open since the 17th century. Interior pub scenes in the Father Brown series are filmed here.
My ploughman’s lunch was extremely generous

As we finished up our lunches we looked out the window and noticed that what was blue sky when we arrived was now dark, heavy, and clouded and the wind had picked up. We quickly settled our bill and set out for Chipping Campden, hoping we could make it before rain arrived.

The Heart of England Way left Broad Campden on a small path squeezed between cottages.
On the way out of the village we passed a pasture with freshly shorn sheep . . .
. . . and then headed out across some fields to Chipping Campden, with rain threatening the entire way.
Thankfully, the clouds blew over and the sun returned by the time we arrived in town to catch our bus back to Blockley.

As we started over the fields the clouds began to spit on us, and we were sure we were going to end up arriving in Chipping Campden soaked to the skin. But, the clouds blew past us and by the time we arrived in town the sun was back out again, ending what was a lovely outing on a high note.

11 thoughts on “In Search of Thatched Cottages

  1. Apparently the decorative thatch at the ridge of the thatched roof is particular to the craftsman who did the thatch. I am enjoying your blog posts and pictures so much. Thanks, Laura.

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    1. I had never seen thatched ridge design before – it was lovely. On some of the houses,​ the thatch is covered with a very fine wire mesh for protection. Up close it sort of detracts from it, but considering the cost of a re-do it’s probably a wise addition.

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  2. I can hear your heart singing…isn’t that so amazing? How one goes in one place never seen before and all of a sudden gets that feeling that eventually everything is right in the Universe? Thank you for the treat, I gasp when I see sheep…

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    1. This village was storybook perfect – it was a treat to explore there. We even got to go inside the church – they had just had their Harvest Festival and the entire interior was decorated with flowers, pumpkins and gourds. It was lovely – we felt so blessed to see it.

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  3. So lovely. I am dealing with a pinched nerve today so no walking for me today but I love your pictures and vivid word descriptions.

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  4. So lovely. From what we were told, there are a lot fewer people who know how to thatch properly so it’s quite an expensive proposition. Hopefully the art won’t die out completely. We came upon a thatched cottage in Lynden, Washington while walking last summer–quite unexpected.

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    1. I think it is a lost art, or nearly lost anyway. Both Brett and I wondered how much it cost to have it redone. Maybe they just “freshen” it up rather than strip it all off and start again? I don’t know. Japan also has thatched houses, done a little differently than here, but the skill to do it fading away as well.

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    1. It was a lovely day. In retrospect we felt a little sad that we hadn’t taken the walk over to the village versus taking the bus – the weather was initially nicer than we had thought it would be.

      Thatched roofs in Germany makes sense – I think they also do thatching in Switzerland (or maybe I’m just imagining that). I wonder if modern or updated thatched homes have a fireproof barrier under the thatching. There were lots of fireplaces around, and all it would take is one spark in the wrong direction.

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