Monday, July 26, 2010

A conversation with a thatcher on the roof of King Billy's house

Now there's a surreal title for a blog post! It's all true - last week, while on a family holiday in south Devon, I visited a house at Aish (near Stoke Gabriel, outside Paignton) which is the location where William of Orange held his first Parliament having landed the day before at Brixham.The "Parliament Stone" outside the cottage marks the event and bears the inscription "William Prince of Orange is said to have held his first Parliament here on 6 November 1688". I'd seen a photo of the house in the Brixham Heritage Museum and decided to seek it out. (At nearby Totnes they have an annual orange rolling competition each August.)

The thatcher was very interesting to talk to - he uses Devon-grown materials with some items (spars) imported from Poland. He also said that about 50 years ago the local authorities offered grants for thatched houses to be preserved. I am pretty sure that here in Northern Ireland, their counterparts were offering grants to replace thatch with slates, a major reason why there are hardly any thatched cottages here any more. My overall experience of south Devon is one where local identity, history and produce are all valued, where organisations like the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust are doing a good job. If only that were the case here in our increasingly suburbanised consumerised Northern Ireland. Click the pics to enlarge.


Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

Brixham - a lovely place