Down the lane, off the beaten track, we stepped back in time. There were no signs, no indication of what we’d find. The only reason I knew about this place was from a fellow blogger.
The farm building had rustic charm, but it was only when we walked up close that we realised it’s unique nature.
Bible quotes are mounted along the walls of the building
Bushey Park is a small community surrounded by hop fields. When we visited a couple of weeks ago, the hops were just beginning to grow up the wires, no where near their maturity height of twenty feet.
I am familiar with the history of hop farming in the UK. For decades in the early twentieth century, thousands of London’s East Enders would travel to Kent to work as hop pickers. For many it was a family tradition, an annual working holiday to get out of the city.
The harvested crop would be taken to the traditional round oast houses, buildings where the hops were spread out over a couple of thin perforated floors of joists and battens. A wood or charcoal fire was lit at the bottom which would dry the crop, with the rising heat escaping through the unusual shaped cowl on the roof, which turned with the wind. The dried hops were then raked up, bagged and sent to the brewery.
Ebenezer Shoobridge was the son of a Kent hop grower and a devout Quaker. His kiln was on a big scale using modern design and techniques for the time.
Hops have been grown and harvested here for one hundred and fifty consecutive years, with beer as popular now as it was with our Victorian ancestors. Harvest and drying processes have obviously changed over the years and been automated but it was fascinating to see the kiln, the old Bakehouse and other historic buildings in this rural precinct setting.
Thank you to Helen at Walking the Derwent River for sharing this delightful place.