Scotney Castle Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
On Thursday 17th September 2015, we headed to Scotney Castle for a special guided tour of the working hop farm on the Scotney estate. We managed to get some good weather on the day, considering the day before it had absolutely “bucketed” down and apparently people still showed up for the hop farm tour!
The end of summer means the hop harvest. Hops are still grown, picked and dried in traditional ways on Scotney estate. You can walk with a tour guide to see the hop gardens, picking shed, drying oast and hoppers huts. Plus sample Scotney Ale brewed from hops grown on the farm. This was a privileged opportunity to visit a working productive hop farm. Fabulous day out.
Our walk was well timed, we got to the processing sheds at the exact moment the freshly picked hops arrived.
Here are the hops laid out after having come out of the oasts. Freshly picked hops are brought to the oast where they dry at a low enough temperature to retain essential oils, but a high enough one to expedite the process and prevent spoilage. Views of part of the hops garden from the top floor of the oast barn. They don’t just have hops here. There are chickens and horses as well.Part of the guided tour also took us on a lovely woodland walk to disused corrugated iron dwelling where the “hop pickers” used to stay during the hop season.
These dwellings used to have doors and windows, and sometimes whole families would come for the hop season. The building on the right is the communal kitchen with open fireplace.