Deborah Yaffe

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The oast with the most

By Deborah Yaffe, Jul 21 2016 01:00PM

Jane Austen and real estate: That’s a familiar subject. Whether it’s grand mansions said to be the model for Pemberley, or modest homes where Austen stayed during visits to friends, there’s no shortage of houses claiming Austen links.


Jane Austen and beer? Now that’s virgin territory, as far as I know.


So it’s a bit unexpected to learn of some beer-related real estate with bona fide Austen links: Up for sale in the southeastern English town of Tonbridge is a converted oast house, which the Evening Standard newspaper says was formerly part of a farm where Jane Austen’s father, George Austen, lived before his marriage.


Oast houses, for those of us not in the brewing game, were once used to dry hops over charcoal-fired kilns. Now that beer-making is a largely industrial process, many oast houses, recognizable by their rounded chimneys, have been converted into homes.


Extremely upscale homes, in this case: The ex-oast house in Tonbridge, which has six bedrooms and three bathrooms, is on the market for £1.07 million, or about $1.4 million at post-Brexit currency-conversion rates.


That’s substantially less than the £1.75 million that the Evening Standard reported, in an apparent typo. The newspaper story also seems to backdate the building by about a century, calling it an eighteenth-century oast house when the realtor’s listing dates the construction to 1870.


Should these errors make us wonder about the authenticity of that purported Austen link? Guess that depends on how many beers you’ve had.


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