The Riverside Café Gallery is delighted to welcome artist Ed Brydon with his exhibition Hampton Hops, documenting the work of the last commercial hop growing in Surrey.
Hop growing around Farnham was once world-class. At the height of local hop growing in the early 19th century, it was said that you could walk from Farnham to Alton without leaving a hop field. William Cobbett, the politician and rural advocate born in Farnham, remarked on the quality of the hops found in this area of Surrey and Hampshire in his seminal book Rural Rides.
Sadly, disease and economic downturn in the early 20th century had their impact, and hop growing in the area declined until there were just a few left post-war. People still talk fondly of their families going out to pick hops and remembering the stories told, or even picking it themselves as young children.
Today, only Hampton Estate grows hops commercially in Surrey. The fuggles hops harvested from their fields in Puttenham, find their way to various breweries around the country, such as The Hogs Back Brewery, Harvey’s of Lewes and The Black Sheep Brewery in Masham Yorkshire.
Ed’s photographs depict the various stages of hop growing: preparing the soil, burning old bines to stave off disease, mending the poles and string, and harvesting in September. This body of work celebrates a particular local history that can still be seen in the many kilns and oasts around the area and is still evident in the wild hops that grow in meadows and gardens.
Ed's work is available to view from Fri 18 August to Thu 14 September 2023.
Ed Brydon is a documentary photographer based in Farnham. He is interested in how we as people interact with ‘place’ through the land, natural environment, culture and community, and how the connections between them change over time.
Ed develops, processes and prints his own film at Kiln Photo – a dedicated darkroom and digital photography community space housed on the second floor of the historic Tice Hop Kiln in Badshot Lea.
If you want to learn more:
- Jackie Kirk