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-  A toast to the oast  (© Steve Taylor ARPS/Alamy)

If you're travelling through the Kent countryside, you're bound to come across these distinctive conical roofs. Called oast houses or hop kilns, the historic buildings were originally used for drying hops as part of the brewing process and are fine examples of vernacular architecture. Oasts are generally associated with Kent – the first and most successful area for hop farming in the UK – although they are found in other counties. Most oast houses that can be seen today originated in the 1800s, although many of them have been converted into dwellings.