All hail the Tally Man!

Not a phrase you hear often these days, but get ready ladies and gents as we’re taking things old skool, bringing back one of the ancient traditions of working Oast Houses.
The Tally stick is back.

Original Tally Man

 

If you’re not familiar with the term then let us enlighten you. In the early 1900s, a ‘Tally Man’ would visit the Oast Houses and note down the amount of hops they were picking and brewing, and mark this on a tally stick.

“The ‘tally man’ came round at intervals during the day, when the hops would be measured out by the tally and recorded for each family. They were then transferred to the oast house in huge ‘pokes’ known as ‘green bags’, each containing 12 bushels, by horse-drawn farm wagons. Pickers were paid by the bushel and an average pick would be 25 bushels a day. One shilling (5p) per bushel is the highest pay recorded and for many years it was only eight old pence.”

[source: Faversham Hop Festival]

At the end of the picking season he would then exchange the tally stick for tokens which could be redeemed by the grower for goods such as new clothes and boots. Designing elaborate hop tokens became something of a competition between hop growers, and they are much sought after by local museums.

The Tally Stick process was later replaced by hop picker books, but not ones to let a good tradition go, we at Dude and Arnette have crafted our very own tally sticks which we use to record services on the Oast Houses we restore and revamp on across the country. We then leave the stick with the Oast House owners and it serves as a handy reminder of when we last visited and reminds them, and whoever takes over the property to keep their cowls in top condition!

Dude & Arnette Tally stick

Our team are passionate about the history behind hops, and being in the business since 1937 it’s important to us to bring some of the old history back to life whenever we can! So next time you visit an Oast House, ask to see their Tally Stick – and if they don’t have one? Send them our way!

6 Great Kent Pub Walks

There can’t be many more pastimes as British as whacking the wellies on and striding off with the family in tow in search of a invigorating walk, ending of course in a traditional country boozer. Here in Kent, we’re lucky enough to have plenty of public footpaths to explore and even more pubs to end up in. We’d recommend heading out on a Sunday, when the lure of a Roast is sure to ignite the interest of even the most reluctant rambler…

Here’s our choice of where to end up, and a rough guide* to how to get there! *We can’t be held responsible for any lost and hungry walkers…

The Goudhurst Inn

Goudhurst is a pretty village, known for being one of the highest locations in Kent. The countryside surrounding the village is sprinkled with Oast houses, so no surprises we put it top of our list! The Goudhurst Inn is located in the Hush Heath Estate which is famous for its production of English wine and cider, and the pub even has rooms upstairs should you overindulge in the apple nectar and need a reviving snooze. There’s a great AA 3 mile walk which spans the village and offers fantastic views of the Weald – highly recommended for a sunny day!

Credit: Tunbridge Wells Online

The Hare, Langton Green

Royal Tunbridge Wells is one of the most popular Kent towns, with plenty of shops, entertainment for families and even the Ivy Restaurant chain have landed in the High Street. Head just a few miles out of the centre and you’ll find the pretty village of Langton Green. A classic English pub with a huge garden, it’s the perfect location to park up and head out for a stroll before enjoying a hearty meal. We’ve found a scenic 4 mile walk which begins from The Hare and takes you on a circular ramble which passes through the majestic Groombridge Place with it’s 200 acres of manicured land.

Credit: DOUK

The Tiger Inn, Stowting

Priding themselves on a menu curated around fresh, local and organic produce, the Tiger Inn is firm favourite with both locals and visitors to the village of Stowling. Log burning fires and being surrounded by picturesque Kentish scenery makes the Tiger a great base for a stroll, and we’re ramping things up a little with a brisk 9 miler, which will certainly stoke your appetite for a meal after!

Credit: Walks and Walking

The Dove Inn, Dargate

If cycling is more your bag, may we suggest taking a trip to Dargate, where you can begin your ride from the popular Dove Inn and explore the nearby Victory wood and the hamlets of Hernhill, Yorkletts and Boughton. Eating at the Dove Inn is a real treat, and they do a mean pizza – perfect for post exercise carb-fest.

Credit: Mobile Food Guide

The Rock at Chiddingstone Hoath

A Grade II 16th century pub, built in 1520 and boasting a wealth of original features and Inglenook fireplace, The Rock Inn is a local favourite. Located in the small hamlet of Chiddingstone Hoath, there’s often more horses than motors in the car park due to to the rural area! History buffs will be in their element as the walk we recommend takes in the historic sites of Hever, Penshurst place and Chiddingstone itself, not to mention oodles of Oasts – all in just 4.5 miles!

Credit: Tripadvisor

The Greyhound at Charcott, Tonbridge

Under relatively new management, The Greyhound offers light pub food using locally sourced ingredients and a friendly atmosphere for locals and visitors alike. There’s plenty to explore in this beautiful part of the Kent countryside, but if you’d like to incorporate a touch of history and literature into your ramble, why not try the ‘Jane Austen & Tonbridge Walk’ which takes in the family connections of the famous author, and also visits Tonbridge Castle. The pub is a short drive from Tonbridge and the perfect location to discuss your adventure over a cold pint.

Credit: The Greyhound

Roll out the red carpet – we’re going to be on T.V!

The word village conjures up nostalgic images of cobbled streets, thatched cottages, local boozers and of course, Oast Houses. Being the UK’s leading experts in all things Oast, when Channel 4 launched their search for the Village of the Year 2017 they came to us to learn the history of oast cowls and Kent Peg Tiles. With faces most definitely made for television, who were we to deny the public this education?

 

Off to Goudhurst we went, and filmed a live and unscripted interview which was both terrifying and a great experience in equal measures. During the interview our main man, Darren explained the history behind Dude & Arnette and also why we advocate the use of Tudor Roof Tiles in oast cowl refurbishment. These traditional peg tiles are handmade in Kent using methods which combine age-old craftsmanship with advanced firing techniques. The process ensures each tile has its own unique colour and character and most importantly, allows the oast roof to continue to retain its authentic appearance. We install these ourselves, but when we are in need of assistance we often call upon award-winning Kent Peg Tiling company, Karl Terry who are specialists in restoring the roofs of heritage properties.

 

Village of the Year is presented by the legend and actress that is Penelope Keith, who also featured in Channel 4’s popular ‘Britain’s Hidden Villages’ series. Penelope has spent most of 2017 scouring the length and breadth of Britain to discover the most scenic and interesting villages, rating them across a range of categories;

  • Appearance
  • History & Heritage
  • Village Events
  • Activities
  • Visitor Experience

 

The winning village will receive £10,000 towards a worthwhile community project. Make sure to keep an eye out for us when the show airs on the 23rd January let us know what you think!

In the meantime, we’re off to practise our BAFTA speech…

Our favourite Kent & Sussex Craft Beers – perfect for a festive pint.

It’s not a secret that after a hard day’s work at Dude & Arnette HQ, we’re partial to a craft beer tipple, especially around the festive season. Pop a bit of Michael Bublé on the gramophone, and that’s our kind of party.

Traditionally, Oast Houses were designed for kilning (drying) hops as part of the brewing process so you could say we’ve got the amber nectar running through our veins (in more ways than one).

 

With the majority of Oast Houses located in Kent and Sussex, it’s no wonder that these regions are famed for their microbrewed craft beers, and in the spirit of Christmas, we’ve put together our favourites that we’ll be supping throughout the festivities.

The Canterbury Ales (Kent)

Hohoho and a Merry Christmas – could this be the best name in the brewing world? The Canterbury Ales have been making craft beers since 2010, and in 2014 their ‘Merchant’s Ale’, a 4% mild stout, was judged by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) to be not just the best beer in Kent, but the best beer in the South East of England! Their popular ‘Mosaic Gold’ is back for a limited time only for Christmas so get in quick…

Caterbury Beers

Larkins Brewery (Kent)

Specialising in traditional Kentish-style real ales, Larkins is a family run brewery based in the idyllic village of Chiddingston. Using only hops from the on site farm, they produce 3 traditional beers (Traditional, Pale and Best Bitter) alongside two guest brews which change with the seasons. Available on tap in many of the independent pubs in Kent.

Larkins Brewery

Mad Cat Brewery (Kent)

Crazy name, kooky branding and delicious in taste, the Mad Cat Brewery are based in Faversham, where they’ve set up a microbrewery at Brogdale Farm. They’re on a mission to create something that will send your taste buds into ecstasy, and in their own words ‘if you want taste and flavour and a genuinely delicious experience then welcome to Mad Cat Brewery and the craft beer revolution’. With a range of ‘keepers’ and a couple of seasonal ales available, we’ll be enjoying a pint of ‘Santa Paws’ (4.5%) this Christmas.

Mad Cat

Long Man Brewery (Sussex)

Tucked away on Church Farm in the hamlet of Litlington (near Alfriston) the Long Man Brewery derived their name from nearby popular walking attraction, ‘The Long Man of Wilmington’. In August their brew, ‘Old Man’ was declared ‘World’s Best Dark Mild Beer 2017’ at the World Beer Awards. When moving into the farm they discovered that a document written in 1538 stated that Church Farm House had a ‘brew-house chamber’ as a part of the premises, so it’s safe to say there’s been plenty of ale through the ages, and Head Brewer, Jamie and his team are keen to continue the tradition for us thirsty folk to enjoy.

Long Man Brewery

Bison Beer (Sussex)

We couldn’t write a post about craft beer without mentioning the bearded, hipster, ale-drinking city of Brighton & Hove. Mock the cost of a pint (or bottle) on the south coast all you like, but the guys over at Bison Beer are making waves throughout the south with their tasty brews such as ‘Tropic Soda’ 5.8% and ‘Stoutzilla’ 8.3%. As we’ve been very good boys this year, we’re hoping to find a few in our stockings this Christmas.

Bison Beer