Oasts and Hop Kilns

A history

By Patrick Grattan

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Tall conical and pyramidal buildings, topped by white cowls or louvred vents, are a distinctive sight on the farms and in the villages of Kent, East Sussex, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Surrey and Hampshire. In these buildings, hops were dried, pressed, and bagged for despatch to breweries. In Kent and Sussex, they are called 'oasts' or 'oast houses', and in other counties 'hop kilns'.

Oasts and hop kilns are testimony to a specialised and important rural industry, and for hundreds of years, they were a defining feature of the countryside. By the late 19th century, there were as many as 8,000 hop kilns and oast houses in England.

This book is the first comprehensive account of the history of oasts and hop kilns in England and includes a comparison with hop drying buildings in Continental Europe and the USA. The 400-year evolution of the kilns and their machinery is pieced together from surviving buildings, books, archives and local lore. In this richly illustrated volume, the charm of oasts and hop kilns on the countryside is captured in sketches, diagrams and photos by the author and others.

Key features

  • The 400-year-story of an iconic farm building, unique to Britain
  • Richly illustrated with 50 years of photographs, sketches and diagrams by the author
  • A rural history pieced together for the first time from buildings, books, archives and local lore




  1. Introduction
  2. Growing and picking
  3. Drying: heat and draught
  4. Cooling, pressing and bagging
  5. ‘Types’ of oasts and hop kilns
  6. The first oasts and hop kilns in England
  7. Inset kilns and oasts
  8. Inset oasts/kilns with conical roofs and chimneys
  9. Tall square pyramidal kilns with cowls
  10. The roundel, Kent and Sussex
  11. Farnham and Hampshire
  12. Herefordshire and Worcestershire
  13. The later 19th century: the high point for English hops and oasts
  14. Markets, politics and profits
  15. Hop drying in Continental Europe
  16. Hop houses in the USA
  17. Modern times


Appendix 1: Hop picking

Appendix 2: Hops and brewing

Bibliography and internet sources


Oasts and Hop Kilns

Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

Additional Information

  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 9781789622515 (Hardcover) | eISBN:9781800856110 (PDF) | eISBN:9781802071276 (ePub)


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