A colour printed stipple plate engraving by Joseph Barney, published in London in 1802.
Platemark 26½ x 24½ inches, with original frame and glass.
This charming and evocative print illustrates one of the rustic tradesmen that were so essential to the rural economy at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Such men were often itinerant in their work and would travel around the countryside offering their services from one village to another. At this time much of the domestic housing stock in southern England would have been thatched and the skills of thatching would have been in great demand. The demise of the thatched roof came about with the expansion of the railways when slates and tiles could suddenly be transported across the country with much greater ease.
These days thatching remains as one of the oldest building practises still being used in England although the emphasis has shifted from the more humble dwellings of the poor to being a status symbol for those who can afford to maintain and replace a thatched roof.
This study of the thatcher reminds us, therefore, of a pre-industrial age when the rural way of life had been relatively unchanged for centuries.