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The Ultimate Lowdown On Thatched Cottages & English Cottage Vacation

So many of us have a romantic fascination with quaint country thatched cottages. Perhaps we associate them with the nostalgic memory of those dazzling Christmas cards going back to childhood? 

Glimpsing traditional thatched dwellings on drives through the British countryside elicits a special kind of thrill – so how much better to holiday inside one?! 

We’ll get back to that, but first, here’s some in-depth info on thatched cottages and English Cottage Vacation.

Where It Began

By Andrew Curtis, CC BY-SA 2.0, earliest thatched dwellings go way back to the Mesolithic era beginning some 10,000 years ago! At that time and for many years after, thatching was the roofing of choice, achieved by using the most conveniently available organic materials.

The constituents commonly used for thatching, even to this day, are straw, reeds and dried vegetation. The Howick house, constructed around 7600 BC, was among the first dwellings known to have such a roof, designed to protect inhabitants and their property from the elements.

Britain has many thatched cottages that have become a standard for what most traditional ones should look like. In fact, throughout the world, England is the country with the most thatched cottages, some of which still have their base thatch from more than 500 years ago. 

Well Cottage, where we host our fairytale English Cottage Vacation, is proudly part of this great piece of British history. 

Different Types of Thatching

No two thatched cottages are exactly alike and, most times, the difference lies in the type of thatching used. Some materials are chosen over others for their lifespan, while others are opted for according to cost. The three main types commonly used are listed below:

Water Reed

This type of material has a longer lifespan than most others used for thatching. As a result, it’s often the common choice for many. Its durability translates to cost-effectiveness, plus it has many other uses besides thatching, such as basket weaving.

Wheat Reed

Originally, wheat reed was a by-product of cereal production. Over time, the material had to be made specifically for roofing and due to the labour-intensive method of doing so, the use of wheat reed for thatching became less popular. Compared to other materials, it was expensive and less accessible.

When used for thatching, it lasts around 25 to 35 years and creates an elegantly rounded appearance that some prefer for their thatched cottages.


Made from the same material as wheat reed, longstraw has a much shaggier look when used for thatching a roof. Similarly, it also requires a lot of labour to produce the material and more skill to thatch it, hence making it a costly option.

Frequently Asked Questions About Thatched Cottages

Does thatch keep out the rain and snow?

Although the types of thatching materials differ, their function is the same. Not only do they offer a unique rustic look for an aesthetic appeal, but they also keep out the rain and snow, even keeping the cottage warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot.

Why are the doors and ceilings of many thatch cottages so low?

As most thatched cottages were built hundreds of years ago, it is believed that the low height of the doors and ceilings is due to most people being much shorter in height in those times as compared to now. Practically, small doorways and lower ceilings were made this way to minimise heat loss from the cottages. 

Are thatched roof cottages safe?

Yes, they are! Some thatched cottages have been around for close to hundreds of years and are still standing firm to this day. The roofing material is also quite sturdy, lasting from 25 years and above and effectively keeps out rain and snow and shelters its inhabitants like any other building. Nowadays, insurance companies require that thatching is treated with fire-retardants so they don’t go up in smoke!

Why do some people call thatched cottages “chocolate boxes?”

This affectionate name for thatched cottages originated from Cadbury’s chocolate boxes that featured the idyllic homes on their packaging during the 1950s and 1960s.

Famous traditional British thatched homes and pubs

One of the most famous traditional British thatched homes is Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, the childhood home of Shakespeare’s bride. The place, so commonly associated with one of the greatest love stories in history, has featured on many postcards and other items as the quintessential English thatched cottage.

There are also many thatched pubs and inns in the UK, like The Thatch in Braunton – an elegant place with great food, drinks, service and vibes. Or The Thatched House Pub in Barking with a cosy feel where you can chill and enjoy your food with a beer while you watch sports or live shows.

Our Very Own Thatched Cottage

Well Cottage in Dorset, UK is the beating heart of English Cottage Vacation. In this gorgeous traditional thatched cottage, you get all the comforts of home with a truly luxurious spin to them. Here are a few highlights of what we offer:

Where We Are

Our cosy cottage is located in Bedchester in the North Dorset countryside. It’s nestled in the midst of beautiful woodland, surrounded by fields, farms and history in the form of magnificent castles and ancient ruins.

Your English Cottage Vacation Hosts

During your stay with us, you’ll be served by two attentive hosts, Nathan and Laura. The couple share a genuine passion for serving so they go all out to ensure that you get the very best service throughout your vacation stay.

Nathan will be the first host you meet when he picks you up from the airport and brings you to our cottage. Whenever you want to go out and explore the beautiful countryside of Dorset or beyond, he’ll be your designated driver, chauffeuring you to and from whatever adventure you decide to embark on.

Laura is our in-house professional chef who cooks up a wonderfully tasty storm in her kitchen. All your foodie dreams come true with English Cottage Vacation, thanks to her brilliant culinary skills as she serves up food she knows you’ll love according to your dietary preferences.

What We Do

English Cottage Vacation is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience luxury like never before. We make the process of planning and booking a vacation so much easier and less stressful by taking care of all the nitty-gritty details so you can focus on simply looking forward to the experience and enjoying every minute of it.

When you call us to book, we’ll discuss what you’d like to do during your vacation so we can recommend and arrange the perfect excursions and activities for you. You’ll also get a form to fill in with details about the kind of food you enjoy or would love to try. All this to guarantee that you have the best luxury British vacation ever!

Wine & Dine

Wine goes down so much better with a fine meal, especially the delectable dishes Laura prepares. The menu is tailored around you – your cravings, unique taste and preferences and our sample menu is a representation of what we offer. Apart from the veggies and herbs that come from our own kitchen gardens, Laura also uses only the best locally-sourced produce.

In addition to the excellent cuisine, you’ll enjoy a wonderful dining experience thanks to the many options we offer. Whether you want to dine in our comfy, formal dining area or enjoy your meal with the wonderful views of nature from our garden room, we’ll make it the best experience for you. You can even dine in the sunshine or under the stars in our gorgeous garden, with the fragrance of a thousand flowers adding to the bliss.

Excursions With Chauffeur Service

As we mentioned before, Nathan will be your chauffeur throughout your stay and that service comes with many amazing benefits, especially for certain excursions. For example, if you’d like to go on a wine-tasting tour or visit a traditional British pub, you can imbibe as much as you like without worrying about how you’ll get home as he’ll always be your cheerful designated driver!

Besides wine tastings, Nathan can take you on other excursions too, like a magical tour of the castles in and around Dorset or on a yacht charter to see the magnificent Jurassic Coast. 

English Cottage Vacation Packages

We offer three packages for your convenience so you can choose the kind of vacation experience you’ll have.

The Fully Tailor-Made experience is designed according to what you want and like. All you have to do is tell us what you’d like to do while you’re here and we’ll customise your itinerary according to that. You can also change this itinerary at any time and we’ll take care of your every need.

The 7-Night Set Itinerary consists of all the luxuries of a tailored menu, personal chauffeur and 24hr VIP service. What sets it apart from the other packages is that it includes a set selection of popular experiences and excursions, with the advantage of a lower price.

The Pre-Christmas experience makes the most wonderful time of the year extra magical! You’ll get to enjoy some special Christmas-themed events that happen in Dorset and shop for some amazing gifts for your loved ones, all while enjoying a luxurious stay in our cottage.

Things to do

What’s your ideal vacation? Is it one where you go on all sorts of adventures, see amazing sights and have the time of your life during different activities or experiences? Or is it the one where you do nothing at all but relax and get pampered and spoiled?

With English Cottage Vacation, you can have any of these and more. There’s so much to do here, including relaxing in our cosy cottage, going on a hot air balloon ride, touring the nearby town, exploring castles and natural wonders, and even celebrating your special occasions in style.

Local Area

Dorset is a naturally beautiful place with awesome activities galore. Well Cottage is in a small hamlet at the heart of the English countryside, so peace and complete privacy are assured.

Bedchester, where Well Cottage is located, is surrounded by Cranborne Chase – a natural beauty like no other. You can walk and hike around it, taking in the unforgettable views or exploring the many fun and fascinating activities available.

About a mile from our luxury cottage is Fontmell Magna, a little village with big charm. Nathan can drive you there and leave you to enjoy exploring the village and all its treasures, then pick you up when you’re done. Or you can simply stroll there and back, taking in every little thing at your own pace.

Another place you can visit in our area is Shaftesbury, only a few miles North of Well Cottage. In this beautiful market town, you’ll see the famous Gold Hill street, made popular by the 1970’s Hovis bread TV commercial.

You can also visit Cranborne Chase and take the scenic route around the area, or take a trip back to mediaeval times and explore the magnificent Wardour Castle that’s partially ruined but still a beauty to behold.

Final Word

Nothing beats the charm of a beautiful thatched cottage – and English Cottage Vacation offers you the chance to experience it in a unique, luxury-filled way. Our packages are designed to give you the best of this charming little piece of traditional British history without taking away the comforts of the things you’re familiar with, all while throwing something new and exciting into the mix. Book your luxury British vacation with us now so you don’t miss out on the experience of a lifetime!