Henry Simmons

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Henry Simmons, Style Place Brewery, Hadlow, Kent.

Founded 1830.

William Simmons recorded here in 1847 and Simmons and Martin in 1855. Martin retired and Simmons continued until 1863.

Acquired by Style & Winch Ltd. 1905 with 14 houses and was closed.

Buildings now private houses.

HADLOW'S OTHER BREWERY by Anne Hughes Archivist, Hadlow Historical Society

While most people will have heard of Kenward & Court Ltd, who had their business at The Close, Hadlow, the village had a second brewery at Style Place, between Hadlow, Golden Green and East Peckham. Brewing began in the 1830s, probably as a sideline to farming. The 1841 tithe report shows the Simmons brothers farming 765 acres of land between them, with 120 acres growing hops, while Bagshaw's Directory of 1847 lists William Simmons as a farmer and brewer.

Directories for 1855 and 1859 list Simmons & Martin as brewers, maltsters and farmers at Styles Place Brewery. The partnership between Henry Simmons and William Martin ended in 1863 with Martin's retirement. A detailed inventory and valuation has survived and is in the Kent Archives. It gives the total value of the brewery as £11,352/4/6d. plus £4,727/4/6d. farming stock.

Properties owned by Simmons and Martin are shown as follows:-

  • Times Tavern beer shop, Tunbridge Wells
  • Coach House, Tunbridge Wells
  • Victoria Inn, Groombridge
  • Tenements at Primrose Hill, Tonbridge
  • Good Intent, Tonbridge
  • New House, Yalding
  • White Hart, Claygate, Yalding
  • The Swan, West Peckham
  • Castle Beer Shop, Hadlow
  • Coach & Horses, Tunbridge Wells
  • Carpenters Arms, East Peckham
  • Beer Shops at Ightham, East Peckham, Hadlow and Marden

A note of the stock in trade was taken on 17th February, 1863. It included 261 quarters of malt, 42 1/2 of old pale malt and 1 1/2 of patent malt, 207 quarters of barley and 42 cwt 3 quarters and 18 lbs of hops variously marked East Kent, Hadlow and Farnham. The stock of beer totalled 392 barrels, and was listed under a variety of names, the most (130 barrels) being BB, other grades Mild X, Mild XX, Stock Ale, Stout and Old XXX. Other stores were 10 lbs isinglass, 2 1/2 gross racking cork shrives, 8 gross bungs, 12 gross taps. 37 tons of coal and 8 tons of stone coal. Listed under casks were 76 puncheons, 67 hogsheads, 423 barrels, 636 kilderkins and 276 firkins. There were six drays or carts, while the horses were listed by name: Dragon, Tommy, Billy, Peggy, Beauty and Henkmans.

The plant and utensils are listed in great detail and include the mash tun about 28 barrels, 22 vats, some English oak and some foreign oak, a brewing copper about 28 barrels, a refrigerator "on Gregory's principles" - there is a long description of this - a steam boiler and a high pressure beam steam engine. Other equipment is listed by the room where it was located. A separate inventory had been made of the farming stock.

Henry Simmons continued trading and is listed in the Post Office directory of 1878 as brewer, maltster and farmer. He - or more likely a son of the same name - was a member of the County Brewers Association from 1884 to 1904. The business evidently prospered during this time as a master brewers house was built during the 1880s.

Joseph Samway was manager for about 30 years. Samway is shown in the 1851 census as aged 31, born in Yalding. By 1861 he was married to Sarah Ann with five children. 1871 shows his son Henry, aged 17, listed as a brewer. By 1881 Henry Samway has risen to managing brewer, Joseph having died, his widow listed as an annuitant. George Simmons is included as a maltsman. The 1891 census shows Sarah Samway still at Style Place, with her daughter Laura acting as housekeeper to William Simmons, the brewer. Leonard Downs is shown as brewers clerk and Frederick Smith brewers labourer.

A good water supply was a necessity for a brewery and in 1886 an artesian well was hand dug, which became the deepest artesian bored tube well in the South East, at a depth of 870 ft., according to the caption on a photo at Style Place. The water was pumped up to a tank standing on a 70 ft tower. Water may also have been piped to a factory in Golden Green run by another member of the Simmons family.

The brewery business was bought by Style & Winch Ltd in 1905 (they already owned The Bell pub at Golden Green) and closed down, although the farming side of the business continued.

In the late 1980s the present owners of the farm applied for planning permission to convert the farm and former brewery buildings for housing. Many of the buildings were listed as being of architectural or historical interest. The name of Caxton Place was adopted, replacing Style Place. There have been claims for Style Place as the birthplace of the printer William Caxton. In the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Century a family named Causton owned the property, and a neighbouring farm was owned by the Clare family, who were patrons of Caxton. There is, however, no proof and other places in Hadlow and elsewhere also claim a Caxton connection.

Care has been taken with the conversion of the farm and brewery buildings, with window and door designs copying the originals. The late 17th Century barn and two stable blocks, one originally 17th Century, are now occupied. The Clockhouse (thought to be where fermentation took place originally) and the Granary are also completed. The main building is the Maltings, built late 19th Century, which is to be converted into luxury apartments. Part of one end of the building, probably a loading bay, was demolished some time ago. The basement has a paved floor with drainage channels and vaulted ceiling supported on cast iron columns.

Caxton/Style Place is a short distance from the road but a public footpath runs through the complex, so the buildings can be seen quite easily. Just in case anyone is tempted to buy one of the buildings and carry on the brewing tradition, I am sorry to say that the conditions on the deeds include a ban on brewing!

An assortment of images of the brewery