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09/06/2013: Farkham Hall in Europe

The gentleman in the picture is my great uncle Stanley Farkham-Adams, whose own Farkham Hall was sited in the affluent south east of England, not far from the seething metropolis that was 1930s London. The Adams part of his name came from a financial arrangement when he married the lady in the picture, my great aunt Felicity. The Adams family was very well placed in comparison to Uncle Stanley, so in exchange for a very generous settlement in Florence's dowry, the Adams family line could continue.

This far-sighted couple had realised long ago that the variety of beers in Europe, particularly Belgium was far and away more interesting than the somewhat dowdy offerings of British brewers at the time. Their plan was to start a brewery using continental recipes and help the British drinking public escape the 'mild or bitter' trap.

You see them here on a fact-finding visit to Oostende in Belgium, where they learned much from the master brewers of De Koeninck among others.

In traditional fashion, power and heat for the brewery was provided by a steam engine, recycled from the Farkham Hall farm. Within months, Farkham Ale was born. This pale coloured ale was brewed from wheat, which was a real departure for British brewing that had traditionally stuck to barley for the grain element. Stanley and Felicity had also imported Belgian yeast cultures to further differentiate their product.

Sales were going well through the test pub, the Amble Inn on the Farkham Estated, with planned expansion into neighouring free houses when tragedy struck. In March 1935, the somewhat less than new boiler on the steam engine exploded, killing Felicity outright.

Fortunately, the brewery was able to continue as Felicity had recently inherited the estate of her well to do parents, and changed her own will in favour of Stanley, so there was more than enough money to repair the boiler. This was fairly short lived though, as there was a good deal of scandal about the accidental demise of Felicity so soon after the loss of her parents in a freak hunting accident on the estate, which brought the interest of a famous detective, DCIK Corner of the Yard. Nothing was ever proven though, and Stanley, or SFA as he was locally known, moved to South America with his 19 year old Belgian bride, Stella. They left taking nothing with them but two suitcases labeled SFA, leaving nothing but questions behind.

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