Home What was hop farming? What was hopping down in Kent? Pictures, maps & games Teacher's notes

Why were hops grown in Kent?

Kent was the first and most successful area for hop farming in the UK. Throughout history, well over half the hops produced in the UK have come from Kent.

How would you describe the weather in Kent?

Kent has strong, fertile and well-drained soil and a mild climate. Setting up hop gardens was an expensive business and Kent farmers were among the richest at the time so could afford to do so.

Kent was also well located to attract workers down from London. For 4-6 weeks in September, during the hop harvest, tens of thousands of Londoners would take a holiday from the city and come down to the Kent countryside to pick the hops.

What would you need to buy to set up your own hop garden?

Kent Hop Timeline

1520: It is believed that the first English hop garden was set up
near Canterbury
1655: One third of the UK hop crop was produced in Kent
1722: A new beer, porter, was brewed that was a combination of 3 beers. It used lots of hops and became very popular throughout the UK making the hop industry very wealthy.
1744: A law was passed saying all the bags or "pockets" the dried hops were sold in had to be stencilled with the year, place of growth and grower's name
1875: Ways of training and stringing the hop plants using stilts were developed in Kent
1878: Hop farming reached its peak with 31,000 hectares (77,000 acres) of land in Kent being used to grow the crop
1908: Foreign hops were being sold into the UK. This caused trouble for the British growers. After people in Kent protested, the Government introduced a charge on imported hops.
1909: Only 13,000 hectares (32,000 acres) of land were growing hops
1914-1918 : During World War 1 the government put a tax on beer reducing the demand for hops
1932: Only 4,500 hectares (11,000 acres) of land were growing hops. Farmers set up the Hops Marketing Board. The board would agree a set price with the growers, the brewers would tell them how many hops they thought were needed and each farmer would be told how much to grow.
1934: The first English hop picking machines were made
1950s: Machines started taking over picking the hops
1968: Thanks to the success of the Hops Marketing Board, 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) of land were being used to grow hops
1982: European rules meant the board had to be split up
2003: 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) of land in Kent is still used to grow hops

Would you rather live in the city or the country? Why?

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