In the days when most houses were roofed with thatch, there was no fire service to call on for help and a fire was even more dangerous than it is today. Burning straw or sparks blown in the wind could set fire to neighbouring property.

It was important to be able to tackle blazing thatch quickly. Large iron fire-hooks were used to pull down the burning straw. Often these were kept in a well-known, accessible place such as the local church porch. A pair of these fire-hooks can still be seen in Bere Regis Church, Dorset.

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