A Farmhouse and Brewery in Great Mongeham

Great Mongeham Farmhouse

brewey_farmhouse_4There has long been a history of brewing and related industries in the village. As early as the ninth century Lufu bequeathed a regular supply of malt to the monks at St. Augustine’s. In the fourteenth century the village was supplying troops in France with ale. There were two malthouses in the village, dating from at least the early eighteenth century. Samuel Shepherd, who later moved to Faversham, owned one. Perhaps he set up the brewery opposite his malthouse.

Although I have not found a deed confirming Joseph Noakes in possession of the brewery, there is a deed of 1807 and another of 1832 in which he is described as a brewer. His son, John was certainly there in 1838. Of course Brewery Farmhouse is much older. The date on the wall, 1735 relates to the rebuilding and extension of the house, as there is evidence of a much older building. It is possible to see a Flemish gable at one end of the building suggesting a date around the middle of the seventeenth century. Although it is unlikely the house belonged to the Noakes family then, it is possible that Joseph or his father developed the brewery when it came into the family possession. It may well be included in several properties which his father bought from Elizabeth Newman in 1756. There were several links with the industry in the family. Joseph’s father had been landlord of the Three Horseshoes and had also owned a malthouse in Sholden.

It is with John that there is an increase in documentation from censuses, tithe maps newspapers and trade directories and the story becomes clearer. The tithe apportionments list of 1838 records John Noakes as owner of the farmhouse, Noakes_farm_and_brewery_1838_2brewery and premises. The business seems to have been well established by then. Besides the brewery there was an extensive farm of 60 acres, and included two hop gardens.

In the 1841 census John Noakes, then 55, is described as a brewer. living at Brewery Farmhouse with his wife, Jane and 2 servants, Sarah Collins and Ann Lomas both 20.

In the 1851 census he is now described as a farmer of 60 acres. They had 2 servants, Sarah Humphrey from Dover and Emma Harrison from Great Mongeham, who was probably the granddaughter of Thomas Harrison who owned the other malthouse.

The farm passed to his son-in-law, John Noakes Coleman, a surveyor who drew up several tithe apportionment maps including the one for great Mongeham. The 1861 census shows John Noakes Coleman from Ash and his family in the farmhouse. In Kelly’s Directory, 1862 John Noakes Coleman is described as a pale ale and porter brewer.

Neither a farmer nor a brewer, John Noakes Coleman first leased the brewery some time before 1870 to Hill and Son, brewers of Deal and later he leased the farm

In 1871 there were new brewery buildings and Thomas Richardson aged 73 was the Brewer and supervisor. He and his family lived at Brewery House (now Brewery Cottage)

By 1881 John Noakes Coleman was living in Upper Deal Road. Although he was still owner of the brewery and the farmhouse in1887. (Rate Valuation book) by 1893 Hills had acquired the freehold of the brewery.

A fire on Monday 10th October 1877 at the brewery was reported in the Deal, Walmer and Sandwich Telegram of 13th October, 1877 :-

“A fire of intense violence raged at Mongeham on Monday afternoon last by which a considerable portion of the brewery premises of Messrs. Hills and Son, the malt house belonging to Miss Bray, a cart store and barn adjoining, an a number of valuable corn and fodder stacks, were partially and in some cases completely destroyed. Contiguous to the brewery of Messrs. Hills is, or was, a line of barns and granaries wherein was stored a large quantity of grain, and it is supposed that a spark from the chimneys near, lodged in the dry roof thatch of these old buildings and so caused the fire, for it was from one these old buildings that about 2.30 pm flames were first seen, and although an alarm was at once raised

and measures promptly taken, the fire increased with surprising rapidity, and very soon had enveloped the pile in one mass of flame.”

A strong wind caused the fire to spread and it threatened other buildings in the street. In less than two hours the Deal Fire Brigade engine, together with others from the barracks of the Royal Marines were tackling the blaze. The fire spread to the malthouse opposite and a cart store and several corn and fodder stacks. However the attentions of a line of volunteers pouring water onto the roofs of nearby houses saved them. The most common roofing material at the time was thatch, so the roof of the malthouse and many brewery outbuildings were destroyed, as well as large quantities of barreled beer.

In 1881, William J. Edwards was the Brewery Manager and lived at Brewery House with his family. He was still manager in 1901 at the age of 47 when the Brewery was taken over by Thompsons of Walmer. I do not know if the brewery was closed straight away, but in a conversation with Henry Fowler he told me he remembered it being still in use in 1928. I think this is highly unlikely. . The main purpose of the takeover was to acquire the 63 tied houses, which included the Leather Bottle. As a result the Mongeham Brewery closed down and some of the buildings were converted to cottages by Denne the builder. Now the cottages form part of the terrace called Brewery Cottages. Number 4 Brewery Cottages is the old Brewery House where William Edwards lived.

Earlier, in 1883 Thompsons had also acquired the malthouse opposite.

By 1881 he had leased the farm to Thomas Medgett from Herne. He employed 2 labourers and a boy to work his 63 acres. Living with him were Sarah his wife and Reuben Palmer, a 14 year old farm servant. from Deal, and there were 2 lodgers., Mary Dray and Elizabeth Court , both living off independent means. .

In 1881 James Solley from Sholden was a visitor to the Bass family at Hillside. He later married their daughter, Emma. James’ younger brother, Charles Solley, took over the lease of the Brewery farm some time after 1883 and farmed 59 acres. His descendents farm in the village to this day, although no longer from Brewery Farmhouse.

By 1893 he was the owner. The 1891 census shows Charles Solley (33) a widower living there with his sons Charles, Frederick and Henri. Emily Goodwin is their housekeeper. In 1901 Charles has his sister, Louisa, living with him. His son, Charles, I believe died as a result of a tragic accident.

Charles’ son, Frederick, inherited the farm and remained at Brewery farmhouse until 1919 when the family moved to the Manor house. I once had a long conversation with Fred's daughter, Joan Wakeham who related several anecdotes from the early part of the 20th Century. She recalled a time of class division, when men doffed their caps to the gaffer. Playing with the labourers’ children was unheard of. One Boxing Day a waggoner came to the door to get his orders for the day. When Frederick returned to the table he was furious because he had forgotten to remove his paper hat, thus compromising his dignity in front of a hired hand. She remembered her father riding around the farm on a magnificent dapple grey horse named Salome.

The barn was used to stable the mules and house the gun carriages belonging to an artillery unit billeted in the village. The mules were temperamental beasts and the young conscripts couldn’t manage them. They smashed the gates, which certainly didn’t please Fred Solley. Joan remembers the kitchen maids polishing up the brass buckles and buttons for the soldiers who were billeted in the village.

Zeppelins often flew over the village on their way to bomb London. An airship came down in a nearby field. One day a Zeppelin flew over the village. Frederick Solley rushed downstairs to get a good view. In the rush he didn’t have time to put his trousers on. His wife threw a pair down to him but they ended up hanging over the telephone wires.

Joan remembers seeing her father stroking the noses of the horses when they returned to the farm after the war. They were battlescarred and one was deaf. It was a solemn moment.

After the move to the Manor House, Brewery farm was kept on as Mongeham Dairy Farm

until WW2, during which it was used to billet officers of units stationed in the village and it became known as Avondale.

After the war it was taken over by Mr. and Mrs. Davies, who called it Brewery Farm Guest House,. In 1952 they advertised in the New Statesman that they “decided to open their own well equipped nursery to unaccompanied babies and children during the winter months”. Presumably the summer was reserved for guest house patrons.

Now no longer a brewery or a farm Brewery Farmhouse retains the name which reflects its past history.

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A Farmhouse and Brewery in Great Mongeham 29 January 2016, 15.50 Jim Buildings of Great Mongeham
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