Roofing the roost

The work is due to be finished this week, with the addition of a small wooden tower that will surmount the thatch. Up until now, and for many centuries past, the colombier has been open to the sky.

The owner of Samarès Manor and seigneur, Vincent Obbard, said that it was impossible to know how old the stone structure was. A dig conducted by the Société Jersiaise estimated that it was at least 16th century, but it could equally as well be late medieval.

The re-thatching was first discussed in 2005, Mr Obbard said, and the estate tried to grow its own crop for thatching straw in 2006. But the result was fairly disastrous since it was, of course, a fairly disastrous summer! When put into a threshing machine, it completely smashed up and was no possible use for thatching.

So they inquired in England; they visited a farming friend in North Devon last autumn, and he had a neighbour with a suitable crop that they could use. They bought that and it arrived in Jersey in the New Year.

The thatching is being carried out by a relation, Philip Hodson, who lives in Wiltshire, and his colleague, Glen Holden, a master-thatcher. The architect is Richard Le Sueur and the work has been assisted by a grant from Planning’s Historic Buildings fund. nextpage


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