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Home Remedies

In the past when medical expertise was scarce and expensive, people did what they could to treat themselves.

In 1817 Elizabeth Penrhyn received the present of an old recipe book from the Duke of Portland. It contained prescriptions and receipts dating back to the 17th century and in use over many generations.

It was common for household cookbooks to include such recipes for treatments, often involving herbs and distilled water. These were usually collected from family and friends.

Those who could afford it might chose to visit one of the spa towns, such as Bath. The mineral waters were recommended as a cure for gout and other aches and pains.

In the East Midlands, Buxton's mineral waters had by the 19th century a long-established reputation. This was supported by medical men, such as Dr. Robertson. A new building for the hot baths was completed in the early 1850s.

A reminder that the modern taste for health supplements is not new is seen in a bookmark advertising cod liver oil. This comes from Wellcome's professional nurse's diary 1928-29:

"In the preparation of 'Kepler' Cod Liver Oil and Malt Extract, the finest cod liver oil…. is employed….. the oil is readily assimilable and the combination is pleasant to take, the fishy odour and taste being effectively masked."

Further sources relating to this subject area are held by Manuscripts and Special Collections at King's Meadow Campus. See our website for information about our collections and catalogues.

Elizabeth Penrhyn recipe book Zoom in

Elizabeth Penrhyn recipe book

The hot baths at Buxton Zoom in

The hot baths at Buxton

Cod liver oil bookmark Zoom in

Cod liver oil bookmark

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