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Stephen Letch (Honorary and Web Secretary)

Phone: 01379 852335

Mobile: 07796 796200

Post: Laurel Farm, Skinners Lane, Starston, Harleston, Norfolk IP20 9PX

Email: [email protected]

Stephen’s thatching career started in 1975 working school holidays with Suffolk thatcher Frank Linnett, with his tuition and others became a Master Thatcher with the then Suffolk Master Thatchers Association in 1981.

All of the thatching I have done these past 48 years, has been using the regions traditional Long Straw and Water Reed materials and thatching techniques, apart from one Heather and one Combed Wheat Reed properties elsewhere in the UK as is appropriate under listed buildings thatch regulations.

Over the years I have trained several thatchers, all of which run successful thatching businesses.

Services I offer are:

  • Thatching with a number of types of thatch materials
  • Consultancy and surveys
  • New-build, Re-instatement, Conservation works
  • Thatched walls
  • Repairs

Since 1984 I have grown and produced my own thatching wheat straw (for authentic long straw thatching), harvesting old heritage varieties from the 19th century, using vintage reaper binders and threshing machines.

Founding member of the National Thatching Straw Growers Association in 2011, and was project officer for a number of thatch related research programs being carried out jointly between the NTSGA and Historic England.

Chimney related Thatch Fires

Through persistence Stephen lobbied Historic England into funding further much needed research into chimney related thatch fires, using some of his initial research design the Fire Protection Association were commissioned by both the National Farmers Union and Historic England to carry out rigorous realistic research into the subject. This was a 3 year project with a final report and recommendations published in 2017.

Further reading on causes of thatch fires:

Add Links to-  BCD Thatch article.pdf; Guidance for owners of thatch buildings with wood burners and multi fuelled stoves pdf; FPA Research findings on Fires in Thatched Properties with Wood Burning Stoves pdf

Thatching the walls, Enterprise Centre, UEA, Norwich

In 2015 Stephen managed a team of thatchers to thatch the walls of a new hugely influential commercial building at the University of East Anglia, this was a new idea of making up sectional thatch away from the construction site to be then craned and lifted into position, we took on the work to bring awareness and promote the green sustainable benefits of thatch for new build.

The walls were thatched with a non-traditional variant wheat straw technique to give the appearance of water reed (clients request), all the butt ends of the stems showed on the surface opposed to the centuries old traditional mix of ears and butts technique that has been seen on older protected listed properties. For a trading standards description, Stephen insisted it should not have the label of ‘Long Straw Thatch’.

Thatchings green credentials.pdf

Thatching historical article of interest; Of Brecks Thatch and Sparrows

Stephen wrote a paper for The Journal of Breckland Studies (2019)

after acquiring the written records and memoirs of the Reeve thatching family across 160 years.

Of Breaks Thatch and Sparrows

Become a Member

Join the EAMTA

Are you interested in a career as a thatcher? Why not contact us for details as to how you can explore all the opportunities a thatching career can offer.

Contact the East Anglia Master Thatchers Association

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