I went on a cycle trip outside of London to Kent countryside the other day and came across several of these curiously shaped houses dotted all over the place.
They are known as Oast houses and for centuries were an integral part producing beer, and we Brits all love a beer, right?
Thing is, beer is all made with the same basic 3 ingredients (barley, yeast, water) but what gives it its unique flavour, aroma and longevity are hops and the county of Kent produces tons of hops - as well as boatloads of apples, pears, cherries and plums; it's not called the Garden of England for nothing.
However before hops can be added into the brewing process for beer, they need to be dried and the best way of doing this is by the use of a flow of heated air through a kiln, or Oast house. A wood or charcoal fire was placed at the bottom, the hops were placed on perforated trays above and the heat escaped through a cowl in the conical roof which turned with the wind, the white weather vane bits you can see at the top of the structure.
Nowadays they have pretty much all been converted into domestic houses, but still something look out for if ever you are looking for a day out from London and fancy some awesome countryside.