An Oast house is usually a circular brick building with a
white cowl on top, hundreds of which can be seen in the
During the 1800's the railway lines built across the area brought
the possibility of selling hops to the large town based brewers.
The hops originally grown for local brewers, were now needed
further afield and in larger quantities. This brought with it
two problems, the first of transporting the hops, solved by the
railways. The second problem of storage of the hops at the
breweries was alleviated by drying the hops so they didn't rot
during the winter months. To alleviate this latter problem
hundreds of Oast houses were built in the Kent and Sussex Border
region to process the hops.
The Oast houses of the Weald were used as drying houses for
the hops grown in abundance in this area. The hops were spread
on wooden floors, which had fires below providing heat, and
the hot air and steam produced escaped through the cowl on
top of the oast . The process of drying was left to very skilled
men who stayed in the Oast houses until the harvest was complete.