Leave a question up on the web long enough, and I reckon you’ll eventually get some sort of satisfactory answer. More than five and a half years ago I pointed out that, thanks to the researches of Kim Cook, we actually knew a great deal less about the history of the Fuggles hop than we thought we did. The “official” history of what is one of England’s two greatest hop varieties says that
“The original plant was a casual seedling which appeared in the flower garden of Mr George Stace of Horsmonden, Kent, and was first noticed in 1861 … the seed from which the plant arose was shaken out along with crumbs from the hop-picking dinner basket used by Mrs Stace … the sets were afterwards introduced to the public by Mr Richard Fuggle of Brenchley, about the year 1875.”
But as Kim Cook pointed out, no George Stace can be found in Horsmonden in the early 1860s, and it’s not at all clear which of several Richard Fuggles is the one that should be credited with propagating and promoting that eponymous hop, since none of them fits the required hole particularly well: they were either too young, or not in the right place at the right time.
Well, the first problem can now be scored off the list: the man in whose flower garden the first Fuggles hop grew wasn’t called George Stace, he was called George Stace Moore, as Lesley Holmes, who has George sitting high up on a branch in her family tree, revealed a short while ago in the comments on my 2009 blog post (and Lesley, I cannot express enough my gratitude to you for revealing that). So that’s why Kim Cook couldn’t find him. Unfortunately, the incorrect information is now pretty much everywhere: George Stace Moore’s name first seems to have been mangled and chopped as far back as 1901, the wrong name has now been repeated for more than 110 years, and even the official Horsmonden website has it wrong. (This kind of problem, when the historical sources themselves are inaccurate, leading puzzled historians to wonder why the facts don’t seem to match up, is, of course, a fuggling nightmare.)
Still, we can now try to put the story right, and we can say quite a bit more about the man in whose garden that ancestor of all Fuggles first grew, since we can now point to him in census records and the like: he was a carpenter, he lived on The Heath, the little green on the south side of Horsmonden, quite near the (now gone) King’s Arms pub, he was 55 in 1861, his wife, from whose dinner basket the seed that became Fuggles fell, was called Sarah Moore (nee Dadswell), she was 42 that year, and the pair had been married 16 years.
But what about Richard Fuggle? The identity of the “Mr Richard Fuggle of Brenchley” named in the article published in 1901 called “The Hop and its English Varieties” by John Percival in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, which seems to be the source for the whole “discovered in a Horsmonden flower garden, introduced by Richard Fuggle” story about the origins of the Fuggles hop, best fits the Richard Fuggle who was son of Thomas Fielder Fuggle of Fowle Hall, which was then in Brenchley but is now regarded as part of Paddock Wood. However, (1) Percival’s is the same article that first seems to have called George Stace Moore “George Stace”, which means we cannot be 100 per cent sure anything it says is accurate, and (2) as Kim Cook showed, while this Richard Fuggle is the only “Mr Richard Fuggle of Brenchley” around at the time – there were at least two other Richard Fuggles in the wider district, his uncle and cousin, who lived at Old Hay, about a mile or so north of Brenchley in a detached part of the parish of Mereworth – Richard of Brenchley was only 13 in 1861, when the Fuggle hop was “first noticed” and had emigrated to Canada in 1871, aged 25 or so, and thus could not have been around to “introduce” the Fuggles hop to the public “about 1875”.
Of course, one answer to the problem would be if “about 1875” is wrong. In the five years since Kim Cook wrote his piece casting doubt on the official narrative, many more old newspapers have been digitally scanned and made available on the net, and the information that can now be gathered together suggests that, indeed, 1875 is likely to be several years too late for the date when the Fuggles hop was first introduced. We also have new characters to add to the narrative: the Manwaring (pronounced, as we shall see later, “Mannering”) family. There were two main sets of hop-farming Manwarings in Brenchley around the middle of the 19th century, the Cowden Farm family and the Marl Place (today Marle Place) family, who moved in to Marl Place in 1850 after the death of Ann Fuggle, widow of their relative Thomas Fuggle, born 1775. Both the Manwarings and the Fuggles were descended from the Thomas Manwaring born in 1650, and as well as the Marl Place Manwarings living in a home previously occupied by Fuggles, the Cowden Farm Manwarings and the Fuggles were as tightly intertwined as hop bines: for three generations running, Fuggles married Manwarings. The Richard Fuggle of Fowle Hall credited with introducing the Fuggle’s hop was in the unusual position of having the same man, the Thomas Fuggle born in 1743, as both his paternal great grandfather and his maternal great-great grandfather.
If Richard Fuggle of Fowle Hall really was involved in developing the eponymous hop, it seems somewhere between possible and probable that he received encouragement from his hop-growing Manwaring relatives. Marl(e) Place in particular is only about a mile and a quarter from George Stace Moore’s home at The Heath in Horsmonden – rather closer than either Old Hay, two and a quarter miles away, or Fowle Hall, another mile further on – and it is clear from a newspaper report in 1884 that the Manwarings knew very well the story of how the Fuggle hop was discovered in Moore’s garden. In March that year a dinner was held at the Gun inn on The Heath in Horsmonden (still open but now called the Gun and Spitroast) in honour of the stationmaster of the nearby Paddock Wood railway station, Mr Richards. Among the many guests from the hop trade were Thomas Manwaring of Marl Place, Thomas Manwaring of Cowden and William Henry Le May of the Southwark hop factors WH & H Le May (whose marvellous head office, with a terrific “hop pickers” frieze on its frontage, still stands in Borough High Street). Le May gave one of the speeches at the dinner, and inter alia recommended the assembled hop growers to give their “serious attention” to Fuggles: “In this neighbourhood it grows to a great amount of perfection, and when allowed to mature, there is no better hop on the market.” One of the Mr Manwarings – apparently Thomas of Marl Place – responded by informing the diners that they were “within a stone’s throw of where the Fuggle’s hops were first raised” – which, since George Stace Moore’s home was just a few tens of yards away from the Gun, they were indeed. (Among Le May’s other asides, incidentally, were the statements that “beer should not be tapped under six months”, and that he had “some now of ’65 and ’68 of the most splendid quality” – in other words, that he was drinking beers 19 and 16 years old.)
So what role did the Manwarings play in the development of the Fuggles hop? This remains entirely unclear, but they were cerrtainly involved with another hop variety developed in Brenchley about ten or 15 years before the Fuggles hop burst on the scene. This was the Prolific hop, “a large hop, but rather deficient in quality and flavour … reared in 1852 from a plant selected from a garden of Old Jones’s hops by Mr Thomas Guest, of Chill Mill Farm, Brenchley,” according to George Clinch in 1909, and its story throws some light on the likely development of the Fuggles. The Prolific was also known as “the Early Prolific Brenchley”, and similar variants, and in November and December 1859 the Sussex Agricultural Express was advertising an auction at Chill Mill Farm of 10,000 “very strong bedded hop sets” (it took 1,500 to 2,000 sets to plant an acre) of the “new prolific Brenchley hop”, or “Early Prolifics”, “raised by Mr Guest, acknowledged to be the best, earliest and most productive hop yet introduced,” and “the same as the first pocket sold in the London Market this season … The quality of this Hop is so well-known that it needs no eulogy.” If Clinch was right and Guest first reared Prolifics in 1852, we can see that even in 1859, seven years on, the variety was still being called “new”. Marl Place was about a mile from Chill Mill Farm, and the Manwarings had clearly already acquired some of Mr Guest’s Early Prolifics even before the December 1859 sale, since it was Thomas Manwaring of Marl Place who had supplied that first pocket of hops of the season to the hop merchants in Southwark, on August 10, “the earliest arrival since 1818”. (He did the same thing the following year, albeit three weeks later, and Early Prolifics, grown by Manwaring or one of his rivals, continued to be the first hops on sale in Southwark each season for some years.)
All this is a Manwaring growing another Brenchley hop-farmer’s special variety. But other Brenchley Manwarings grew Early Prolifics: in 1867 Thomas Marley of Cowden Farm (which is about a mile from Marl Place} was actually selling sets of Brenchley Early Prolific to rival hop farmers. Then in September 1869 William Waterman of Queen’s Head Yard, Southwark – quite likely a partner in Waterman, Williams & Wilmot, another firm of Southwark hop factors – writing in the Hastings and St Leonards Observer, reported that “Mr Thomas Mannaring” (sic) of “Morle-place farm, Brenchley (sic again) “has been raising a new sort of hops called Cedar Goldings, which are very superior, and in the season he will have some sets for sale.” The earliest mentions of the Fuggles variety often call it “Fuggle’s Goldings”. Are “Cedar Goldings” really “Fuggle’s Goldings” under another name? Certainly I cannot currently find any other mention of “Cedar Goldings”.
Six years later comes the earliest mention yet that I have been able to find of the Fuggles variety, in a report on hop growing printed in the Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald on February 6 1875, which said: “During the past three years there has been a great demand for all sorts of sets, particularly of recently introduced early sorts … the “Meopham Golding”, “Fuggle’s Golding”, the “Prolific” are noted types of ‘great croppers’, and their sets sell readily at good prices.” (“Fuggle’s Early Goldings” (sic) were still regarded as an early variety in 1883, according to an advert that year in the Sussex Agricultural Express, though by 1909 they were seen as a maincrop variety.) For the “Fuggle’s Golding” to be “noted” as a great cropper by early 1875, it must have been cultivated, surely, for a couple of years before that, at least. If the sources are correct, it took Mr Guest’s Prolifics seven or so years from their discovery in 1852 to become well-known enough for their quality to be mentioned in local nwspapers. If the variety that was first spotted in George Stace Moore’s flower garden in 1861 took a similar seven years to earn a reputation as a “great cropper, that would take us through to 1868/9, when Thomas Manwaring was raising his “very superior” variety called Cedar Goldings just a mile from that same flower garden. If 1868/9 is indeed the time by which the hop found in Moore’s garden had achieved a high enough reputation that others wanted to grow it, that would also mean that Richard Fuggle of Fowle Hall, Brenchley was still around to “introduce” the sets to the public, since he would not be emigrating to Canada for two or more years.
The Manwarings certainly grew Fuggles hops: in October 1882 the Kent and Sussex Courier carried an advertisement for the sale by Thomas Manwaring of Marl Place of 250,000 bedded hop sets – enough to plant at least 125 acres – including “Fuggle’s Early Goldings”, Henham’s Jones’s and Meopham Goldings (two more early varieties), and Colegates (a late variety) with a note that “The whole of the Hop Sets were cut from Mr Manwaring’s plantations, and the greatest reliance may be placed in their being true and genuine.”
We have, I think, demonstrated that the Fuggles variety must have been introduced several years before the 1875 usually given for its arrival in the public spotlight, or it would not have been around long enough to be called a “noted type” early that year. Given a minimum of two to three years for the variety to become “noted”, this pushes its introduction back to some time in or before 1871/2, but probably not earlier than 1868, given how long the Prolific variety sems to have taken to become well-known. This at least makes it possible, rather than improbable, that Richard Fuggle of Fowle Hall, Brenchley was indeed the man doing the introducing, and the man after whom the hop is named, even if he was only 25 in 1871.
But how much of a role did the Manwarings play in the story of the Fuggles variety? It seems hugely unlikely that, as noted hop farmers living close to Horsmunden, neither the Cowden Manwarings, Richard Fuggle of Fowle Hall’s close relatives, or the Marl Place Manwarings, his slightly more distant cousins, would not have known about his involvement in the development of the plant found in George Stace Moore’s flower garden, and would not have offered advice and help. Was Thomas Manwaring’s “Cedar Golding” really the Fuggles hop under an earlier name? Did the Cedar Golding get renamed the Fuggle’s Golding in 1871 by the Manwarings to commemorate the fact that their Fuggle relative was leaving for Canada?
Now I’m speculating, which is a very wrong thing. But there’s almost certainly more on this story still to be discovered as new volumes of local newspapers are scanned and made available on the web. We may yet learn the final and definitive truth about Mr Fuggle and his hop.