‘We now sleep in the pantry’ – thatched cottage blaze couple move back in
- Credit: Simon Parkin
A Norfolk couple who watched on helplessly as their Grade II listed thatched cottage went up in flames are now living in the charred aftermath of the blaze.
Paul Rutter and Karen Roseberry could only stand and watch helplessly as flames spread to the thatched roof of Yeoman's Cottage, in Rockland All Saints, near Attleborough, after a blaze broke out in the next door garage in June last year.
More than 70 firefighters spent several hours tackling a blaze which engulfed the roof of the pink cottage, which dates back to the 1630s, leaving it partially destroyed.
The couple have since been living in a house in the village belonging to children's book illustrator and political cartoonist Chris Riddell and his wife Jo.
But this week they moved back into the remains of the cottage living in ground floor rooms, including a makeshift bedroom in what had previously been the pantry.
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Ms Roseberry said: "Chris and Jo have been incredibly kind but we felt we are now able to move back in. It is a bit strange to be back. We have got candles because we have only got a single light because we are using electricity from a neighbour.
"Our bedroom is now in what was the pantry. People think it is very amusing that I am sleeping where all my wine stock was kept before the fire."
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Following the fire villagers rallied to help removing 40-tonnes of charred debris and building a temporary tin roof to make the building watertight.
Work is currently underway on a striking new modern eco-building on the site of the garage that the couple plan to move into before work to rebuild the cottage begins.
Ms Roseberry said: "We both had our big sixtieth birthdays this year and this is not quite how we envisaged it. Paul had thought he might be able to retire a bit early but it just as well he likes his job because he is going to have to work a bit longer."
Mr Rutter, an engineer involved in electrical appliance testing, now uses the fire, which was caused by a recharging lamp in the garage, in his training courses as an example of what can go wrong.
After consulting with the listed building conservation officer, the couple plan to rebuild the cottage without its thatched roof probably opting instead for tiles.
"It is not because we are now frightended of thatch but because when we come to sell it it might put people off particularly knowing we have had a fire," said Ms Roseberry.