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What is an Oast House?

Beautiful holiday cottage in Sussex

Beautiful holiday cottage in Sussex

The picturesque pointed roofs of Oast Houses are a real feature of the landscape throughout the south of England. Many have been converted into homes as they are not only spacious and light but with the quirky round rooms of the Oast kiln itself add a special dimension. Traditionally, the round Oast kiln was built to dry hops. The ground floor of the roundel housed a furnace with the heat rising through the wooden slatted ceiling to dry the hops that had been laid out above. The steam then rose through the conical roof and out through the opening at the very top of the pointed roof. Most oast houses had an attached barn which was used to cool and press the dried hops so they could be bagged and sold for beer making. It was found that square oasts were just as good at drying the hops and as they were much easier to build, most Oasts built after 1900 were square rather than round. There are a few working Oasts still used where traditional beer making methods are maintained and The Hop Farm at Paddock Wood, Kent has a hop museum charting the history of hop making. Kent and Sussex are particularly renowned for Oast Houses with many wonderful examples and surrounded by rolling countryside add that little bit extra to a holiday in the country.

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