Modern Living: Raising the Roof

Olde England—the phrase conjures visions of red-cheeked lads frolicking with shy maids, of nut-brown ale bubbling in pewter flagons, and sturdy oak-beamed, thatched-roof cottages. These days, the red-cheeked lads and shy maids are living it up in Chelsea, and the nut-brown ale is thin and sour, but cottages with roofs thatched in reed or straw are back in style. The British government is acting to preserve the best examples, and the thatchers themselves —an independent breed that was dying out—suddenly have more work than they can possibly handle.

Until a decade ago,...

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