Community News: The Hundred Parishes Society

The Hundred Parishes includes much of the extensive barley-growing area of the Hertfordshire and Essex borders. The malting of barley in preparation for its use in the brewing industry was a significant activity in several of our larger villages and market towns, especially along the River Stort, from the 18th to the 20th centuries.

Evidence is still to be found in the form of place names indicating the location of former maltings, such as Malting(s) Lane in Much Hadham and Chrishall; and in the names of buildings that were once maltings or associated with one nearby. Thus there are a number of Malting(s) Cottage(s), as in Linton, Bartlow, Much Hadham, Aspenden and Ugley; and Old Maltings as at Manuden, Arkesden and Great Chesterford. In Little Hallingbury there is Malting Farm and The Old Brick Malting.

As well as conversion to private houses, surviving maltings have been renovated and converted to a variety of uses. Great Dunmow’s is now a museum and community resource. In Wethersfield the maltings is now the village hall and shop, while the station maltings in Newport and those in Central Arcade in Saffron Walden are commercial premises. Multi-storey maltings in Sheering have been converted into apartments and in Stanstead Abbotts to a business centre.

The classic form of a malting reflects the various processes which took place within the building. Grain was hauled in through the lucam or hoist housing at one end of the building where it was then steeped in water to start the germination process. The grain was laid out on germination floors before growth was halted at a particular stage by applying heat in the kiln at the other end of the building. The process of initiating and then halting germination is known as malting.

Ken McDonald, Secretary –