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

Our top 3 National Trust attractions with Oast Houses

All we want for Christmas is… a National Trust membership!

Why? To visit our favourite historical oast houses of course…

The National Trust is truly a British institution and are outstanding at maintaining the estates they manage for the enjoyment of visitors. We’ve put together our top three destinations to visit that include an oast house on site, all of which are steeped in history and make for a great day (or overnight) visit!

 

Bateman’s

Jacobean house and home of Rudyard Kipling

Burwash, East Sussex

Batemans oast house

Famous for writing The Jungle Book and Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling will always be one of Britain’s most revered Children’s authors. Rudyard lived at Bateman’s from 1902 to his death in 1936, and the property and its grounds were bequeathed to the The National Trust in 1939 following his wife, Catherine’s death. The estate features a well restored Jacobean house which has been kept the same as when the Kiplings lived there, a mill house and a brick-built double oast house which is grade II listed. We’d recommend visiting on an autumnal day when the leaves are turning golden, perhaps on ‘Apple Day’ which is held in October. Other events include a folklore and fairy tale trail which is perfect for budding bookworms.

 

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Cranbrook, Kent

Sissinghurst Oast House

460 acres of stunning Wealden countryside encase the majestic Sissinghurst castle and its famous gardens. Vita Sackville-West, a poet and writer and her husband Harold Nicolson (a Diplomat) fell in love with the estate and made it their home in 1930. In the years that followed they worked tirelessly to create the spectacular gardens that now draw thousands of visitors to the estate each year and are looked after by The National Trust. The castle and its grounds also housed plenty of secrets during Vita and Harold’s marriage, including numerous same sex love affairs, most notably between Vita and Virginia Woolf. A fantastic place to visit, especially to see the large oast house which is part of the sprawling gardens.

 

The Oast House
Bromyard, Herefordshire

The Oast House

The Oast House is an 18th-century brick built house, located on the Brockhampton estate, with its former hop kilns and barns still in place. If you fancy taking a break in Herefordshire, then staying at The Oast House is the perfect place to get your history fix. Take time to explore the neighbouring towns and National Trust properties which include The Weir Garden in Hereford, and Croome, a secret wartime air base in Worcester. The Oast house boasts 6 bedrooms and sleeps up to 10 people, which makes it the perfect family base for a UK ‘staycation’.

All images are from The National Trust Website

The day that Doris battered the Hop Farm Oast Houses!

There’s a French saying, ‘force majeure’ (superior force) which strikes fear into any property owners heart. These unavoidable acts of nature, such as Storm Doris don’t come around often in the UK but when they hit they cause a whole lot of damage, as the team at the popular Hop Farm attraction in Kent found out.

 

If you can get the image of a little old lady battering an Oast Cowl with her handbag out of your head (!) then let us take you back in time to the day Storm Doris descended and reeked havoc on the Hop Farm’s historic Oast Cowls.

 

Hop Farm Oasts

 

On the 23rd February 2017, Doris blew in with gusto with winds of up to 94mph, whipping trees from their roots, and causing devastation across the country. We were called in to the Hop Farm the following day after they saw that their Oast Kilns has been badly damaged by the storm, with one cowl ripped off the pole and four others which had been badly damaged.

 

A venue famous for having the world’s largest collection of Victorian Oast Houses, and with wedding season fast approaching, it was imperative that they be restored to their former glory quickly, so we zoomed to the rescue – Superman style.

 

Darren_Superman

 

The cowl that had come off had been sealed by our team on the first visit, but on our return we removed the four additional damaged cowls and took them away to inspect and repair. After refitting, we decided with the site manager that a maintenance program for the cowls would be the best idea going forward to ensure the site continued to stay in tip top condition, a little like the painting of the Severn Bridge.

 

Although Doris is firmly in the bad books, we are pleased to be working alongside The Hop Farm, helping to restore and maintain their beautiful Oast Houses for thousands of visitors to enjoy year after year.

 

Team D&A to the rescue once again – now we’re off to hang up our capes and have a cuppa.