Heritage and history brought to life through beer, bread and honey

25 August 2016

Canterbury Christ Church University is celebrating the history of its North Holmes Campus and its connections with Canterbury as a World Heritage Site through beer, bread and honey.

The University’s Sustainability Team initiated Beer, Bread and Honey in 2015 to celebrate the part of the University’s Canterbury site which sits on the former outer precincts of St Augustine’s Abbey. A year later, the project is in full swing.

The remains of the monastery, where St Augustine’s monks lived and worshipped, still stands on the site, as does the old brew and bake house wall, oozing its history and heritage. Over the last year, hops, beehives and a bread oven have been introduced to the site bringing the brew and bake house wall back to life resurrecting its former purpose.


Selection of hops on campus.

A selection of hops, including Wye Challenger, East Kent Goldings and Fuggles, grow wild on the unique location of the site within the East Kent Goldings Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Region. The hops have already produced the first batch of Green Chapel ale, in collaboration with the Canterbury Brewers, which is sold at University food and drink outlets, The Foundry pub in Canterbury and at local events.

Christ Church students built a wood-fired mobile community bread oven in spring 2016 which has been used for monthly bring and bake events and as a model for community engagement through the University’s Community Arts and Education programme.

In order to restore the third element of the project, a colony of bees now resides in the Forest Garden next to the Johnson Building. The colony adds to the heritage link, as the monastery would have kept bees also. However, it also helps local pollination and biodiversity, as well as providing beekeeping opportunities for students and staff from April to September.

Alex Metcalfe, Sustainability Projects Officer at Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “Beer, Bread and Honey has brought members of the University and wider Community together to take part in fun and engaging activities that help us understand our unique sense of place and to value our environmental and cultural heritage.

“Growing hops and working with the Canterbury Brewers has been a tremendous success, and Green Chapel Ale is now sold all over Kent. Our trailer mounted bread oven has been very popular with students and staff who come together every month to bake their own food. A minimum of 27 trainee beekeepers have tended our colonies this year and with more colonies planned we can only go from strength to strength.”

The University’s Life Sciences students are also working with the project for their studies, learning to isolate wild yeast strains and test them for commercial viability with the Canterbury Brewers.

Alex said: “The project is unique and differs from other universities as they are designed to be enjoyable, as well as to generate research and personal development opportunities for our community, ensuring projects impacts are embedded over the long term.”

To find out more about the Beer, Bread and Honey project or other Sustainability projects at Canterbury Christ Church University visit the website.


Notes to Editor

Fun facts:

  • We are a zero waste to landfill university. For the last for years, waste has been recycled or burnt to produce energy.
  • We produced 900 bottles of Green Chapel Ale and two kegs, last year.
  • We have three solar arrays on the rooves of flat buildings, so they are not visible, these are on The Old Sessions House, Rochester House and Erasmus buildings on site. All of the other building rooves were surveyed and found to have inappropriate orientation or lacking structural strength to support solar panels.
  • We have over 20 bee hotels on site.
  • The North Holmes Campus is part of Canterbury in Bloom, which achieved a gold award in 2015, has been entered into the Britain in Bloom awards in 2016, along with 6 other regions, and has entered the South and South East in Bloom category this year.
  • Bioversity is our unique approach to enhancing biodiversity on the site, using heritage as a reference for our Biodiversity Action Plan.
  • We have a single colony of bees which produce small amounts of jarred honey and honey comb, however you can get up to 50Lb a year from a productive hive, which translates to 50 jars of honey.
  • We have six different hop species:
    • Three traditional commercial varieties: Wye Challenger, Fuggles, Redsells Eastwell Golding.
    • Three heritage varieties from the National Hop Collection, dating back to the 1700's: Canterbury Whitebine (ancestor of all Goldings Hops, found by Mr Golding on his land near Canterbury), Bramling (named after the nearby village of Bramling) and Early Prolific (another Goldings Ancestor)
    • Our bread oven is purely made out of sand and earth.

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With 17,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 95% of our UK undergraduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2013/14 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 22:59:00