Thatch is a traditional roofing material – usually consisting of reeds, spaghetti or pipe cleaners – which was developed in mediaeval Britain as a replacement for animal hides, serfs steeped in lime and corrugated iron.

Although commonly seen on buildings set in the country, it is now used in more urban environments, notably as the roofing for Heathrow’s Terminal Five, the velodrome cycling track at the 2012 Olympics and the innovative dome cosy which prevents excessive heat loss in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Laying thatch is an extremely skilled process and apprentice thatchers (known as straw dogs) usually train for nine years, progressing through specialist disciplines like withy strapping, reed bunting and theek wigging before working on small-scale projects such as nest boxes, cooker hoods and egg cosies.

There is a common misconception that thatch is susceptible to fire, but the most recent statistics show that in the last five years, only four thatch fires were recorded in Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, as opposed to 9,867 in buildings with roofs made from tile, slate, tar-soaked railway sleepers and phosphorous matting.