The best of Dorset in words and pictures

Dorset thatch

Peter Booton captures just a few of Dorset’s unusual and unique thatched structures

Bladen Valley, Briantspuddle is a model village of individual thatched cottages in Arts and Crafts style and was created by Sir Ernest Debenham in the 1920s

Village Hall, Briantspuddle. A former thatched barn dating from the 18th century and owned by Briantspuddle Parish Council since 1955.

There are thought to be around 50,000 thatched buildings in the UK. There are just under 2500 listed thatched buildings in Dorset, and the Dorset Fire Service believes there to be as many again which do not have a listed-building status. Dorset can therefore boast around ten per cent of the nation’s thatched structures.

Dorset Police Post, Studland. Still in use and situated near Middle Beach car park.

Designed by Ponting in Arts and Crafts Gothic style, St George’s Church, near Gillingham, was built in 1921 as a memorial to those from Langham who died in World War 1

The connection between thatch and the Fire Service is not simply limited to the latter (for obvious reasons) needing to know the numbers and locations of thatched roofs, but extends to the fact that the interior roofing method used to mitigate the risk of fire in thatch is known as the ‘Dorset system’.

The New Forest Perfumery, Tearooms and Coffee Lounge, Castle Street, Christchurch. A timber-framed building believed to date from the late 13th century; part of the present teashop once also served as a courthouse.

Milton Abbas, a ‘model village’ of thatched cottages created by Joseph Damer, Lord Milton, to replace the 'view-ruining' existing village of Middleton, which was razed and landscaped

Within the 5000 aforementioned buildings, Dorset has an unmatched collection of rare – and in some cases, unique – thatched structures. These include two thatched museums, two model thatched villages, a thatched village hall, church, police post, brewery, tithe barn, castle and even (although not strictly speaking a building) a thatched wall!

Palmers Brewery in Bridport dates from 1794 and is the only thatched brewery in Britain

Woodsford Castle. Mid-14th century fortified manor house now owned by the Landmark Trust. Its roof is believed to be the largest area of thatch on an inhabited house in this country.

Shitterton has a Grade II-Listed cob boundary wall with thatched capping, which incorporates a summer-house, believed to be 18th-century in construction

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