A Secret History of Hopping in Stoke Newington

Written by: Sophie Taylor

Amongst a parade of local pubs, eateries and craft shops sits a long established secondhand bookshop on Stoke Newington High Street.

As well as the classics section and fiction aisle, you’ll find childrens books for the yummy mummies and daddy cools, art and photography books for the hipsters upgrading their coffee tables and even a travel guide section for the holiday pic pervs. Yes, every Stokey cliche is catered for in Stoke Newington Bookshop and all found at very reasonable prices, from warm and knowledgable staff.

But this is just what you’ll find by day.

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Come sundown the bookshop slowly turns in to an illicit venue for secret happenings and get togethers. It’s all tres beetnik round Stokey these days.

This Thursday 30th March for example, a beer tasting-come-reading event will occur from 6:30pm amidst the shelves and piles of books. Award winning author and journalist, Melanie McGrath, who traces her roots back to 17th century Spitalfields weavers, has written an acclaimed memoir on the topic of hopping.

What is hopping you ask? Why, it is the act of picking hops for beer my friend! Almost 250 000 Londoners used to pick their hops back in the 19th century, making the special pilgrimage to Kent to do so every year.

McGrath will tell us the secrets and stories of hops and hopping whilst we all sip heartily on beer and drink in her sordid tales. We’ll find out why the devil those oasthouses are so round and what exactly a ‘hop husband’ is when he’s at home. The book, aptly and succinctly entitled Hopping, will be available to buy on the night.

A Secret History of Hopping by Friends of Hackney Archives, Thursday 30th March 6:30 – 8pm.

Register for free here

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