The Henley family bought into Spelmonden Estate in 1932 managing 300 acres. Over the years this has increased to 490 acres.
It all started with Percy Henley joining partnership with his uncle and an investor. By 1960 his son Brian came onto the scene after having done a year’s course on Fruit Growing at the Kent Farm Institute at Sittingbourne. Brian took over managing the farm whilst his father was a full time hop factor in London. This entailed selling hops for the growers to hop merchants who bought for the brewer. Along with the hop growing, we also started growing fruit. Back in the 50’s and 60’s all fruit was sold at wholesale markets in larger cities as supermarkets had not started at this time. Our fruit was loaded by hand (no pallets or forklifts in them days) in the afternoon and set off for Covent Garden or Spitalfield in London and occasionally Birmingham. Supermarkets started in the 70’s which altered the selling of the fruit and marketing groups were enforced to deal with the volume of the fruit market.
Hop growing was our main enterprise and we were one of the largest hop growers in the UK during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s which we eventually stopped in 2002 due to the cost of production.
In 1989, the third generation of the Henley family joined the farm and has over the years diversified the Estate. All our Hops were then grubbed we converted the buildings associated with Hop growing into commercial offices and warehouses. The farm cottages are now used as residential lets.