One of the famous types of buildings in the area, particularly in Kent, is the oast house or hop kiln, which is a building designed for kilning (drying) hops as part of the brewing process. Many redundant oasts have been converted into houses - which was the case of the oast house we passed early on in our walk.
The earliest surviving oasts date back to the 1750s. Early oast houses were simply adapted barns. By the early 19th century, the distinctive circular buildings with conical roofs had been developed in response to the increased demand for beer. In early in the 20th century, square oast houses appeared as they were found to be easier to build. In the 1930s, the cowls were replaced by louvred openings as electric fans and diesel oil ovens were employed.
This is the first time I was able to photograph an oast, even if it was converted in home. Although hops are today dried industrially, I am glad that the unique architecture of the oast houses is not entirely lost. Brewing beer has become part of the cultural fabric of the UK, and its influence on the local architecture in Kent and parts of Sussex is distinctive.
Architecture says a lot about local industry, way of life and the communities in a particular area. While these change over time, adapting some of the former buildings for modern can keep history alive, and the distinctive feel of an area.