Hop Picking

By tradition, perhaps mostly of twentieth century origin, hop picking is associated with Kent. But it was once more widespread and certainly in the Worcester area a phrase lingered on. My wife lived in Worcester as a child in the 1950s and recalls that good autumnal weather was described as ‘proper ‘op picking’.

My own relatives in Sussex were certainly involved in the hop business around Uckfield into the twentieth century and a family postcard shows hop pickers at that small Sussex town.


I can bet there are family members amongst the folk in that card, but sadly, I have no names and can’t identify any.The photo dates from the nineteenth century. I know my great grandfather was deemed to be an expert hop dryer so he probably wouldn’t have picked. But surely others, in the labouring classes, would have done. And my ancestors and relatives were virtually all agricultural labourers.

But this is a family card – sent to one of my relatives.


The card has had the stamp removed – which often happened, but we can surmise it was sent from Uckfield in 1904. By the way, there is a Bleak House in Uckfield.

The recipient was a Miss Frost at 8 Marlborough Place, Brighton. It was the lot of a good many of my female relatives to spend time in service in Brighton and area.

From the message Miss Frost appears to have the initial M. The message seems to come from ‘your sis SF’.

And this all presents a mystery. I cannot trace M Frost and certainly not an M Frost with a sister initialled S.

However, my feel is that they may have been daughters of my great great uncle Frederick. He lived and worked at Hempstead Mill which is on the edge of Uckfield, albeit in the neighbouring parish of Buxted. I note the sender of the card couldn’t get one of H Mill.

An alternative theory is that the sender is EF with a rather curled capital E and that could fit with this family for there was a Mary, born in 1884 and she had a sister Emma born in 1886.

Whoever writer and recipient were, I am sure they are family members. Why else would the card have survived in the family with a message clearly meaningful to my forebears?



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One Response to “Hop Picking”

  1. Janet Says:

    Reblogged this on Janet’s thread and commented:
    An example of using a postcard to try to trace lost relatives.

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