AskDefine | Define oast

Dictionary Definition

oast n : a kiln for drying hops

User Contributed Dictionary



Middle English ost, Anglos Saxon ast a kiln, Latin aedes a hearth or house

Alternative spellings


  1. a kiln for drying tobacco, malt and especially hops

Related terms

Extensive Definition

In many cases, early oasts were adapted from barns or cottages. A chapel at Frindsbury is also known to have been converted to an oast.
This was done by building a kiln within the building dividing it into three, the upper floor being used the receive the "green" hops, dry them and press the dried hops. Examples of this type of conversion can be seen at Catt's place, Paddock Wood and Great Dixter, Northiam.

Traditional oasts

thumb|Oast with octagonal kilns, now house convertedIn the early nineteenth century, the traditional oast as we now know it started to be built. A two or three storey stowage, with between one and eight circular kilns. Kiln sizes generally ranged from to diameter, with a conical roof. Towards the end of the nineteenth century square kilns were constructed. These generally ranged in size from to square. An oast at Hawkhurst was built with two octagonal kilns, across the flats.


Oasts can be found in the UK and abroad.

South East England

Oasts are generally assosciated with Kent, but are also found in Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.

West Midlands

In the West Midlands, the main hop growing areas are Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.


In Belgium, the main hop growing area is around Poperinghe and Ypres. Oasts are also to be found in the Czech Republic.


Tasmania is a major hop-growing area. During the nineteenth century some of the Kentish hop growers emigrated, and took hops with them. Initially, Tasmanian oasts were converted from existing buildings (New Norfolk, Ranelagh) but later purpose built oasts were built (Valley Field, Bushey Park). These oasts had louvred ventilators instead of a cowl. The New Norfolk oast was converted from a watermill and is now a museum. Another location that has oasts was Tyenna. A modern oast of by , was built at Bushey Park in 1982.


thumb|Oast House in Tudeley, Kent, now in residential use thumb|Millar's Farm, Meophamthumb|Castle Farm oast, SissinghurstWith the increasing mechanisation of the hop-picking process, many oasts fell into disuse. Some were demolished, others became derelict. Increasing demand for housing has led to many oasts being converted into houses. Local councils nowadays are generally much stricter on the aesthetics of the conversions than was the case before planning law came into being. Often kiln roofs have to be rebuilt, and cowls provided on converted oasts.

Fake oasts.

thumb|Fake oast at Harrietsham.In recent years, a number of buildings have been erected to look as though they were oasts, although in fact that is not the case.



  • Hops and hop picking
  • A Pocketful of Hops
  • Kentish Oasts
  • Oasts in Kent
  • Oasthouses in Sussex and Kent
  • Kentish Fire

External links

oast in Dutch: Eesten
oast in German: Darre
oast in Japanese: オースト・ハウス
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