To start, here’s the earliest documented library acquisition, a manuscript which was bought for Henry Wellcome in 1897.
A collection of recipes and receipts, Receits of phisick and chirugery, was written in 1692 by one Lady Ayscough. The item was bought at auction for £2 10s, and would become the first of the many manuscript recipe books to be acquired by Wellcome.
The manuscript numbers over 200 pages, and consists of mostly medicinal receipts, though with some culinary recipes towards the end – this mix, in itself, offering an insight into lay medical practice during the Early Modern Period.
Receits of phisick and chirugery stands as an exemplar of our other receipt books. Written in English in a readable hand, it takes us back to a previous age of sickness and healthcare. If some of the titles of the receipts are anything to go by; even if the methods may have changed some of the complaints remain with us:
‘To Stop Bleeding’
‘To Cause Speedy Deliverance’
‘For the Piles Being Outward’
‘For a Sore Brest’
‘For a Cough’
Interest in our receipt books has risen over the last two decades, in no small part due to changing patterns of historical research, and the rise of such fields of study as Food History. Their popularity makes them an ideal collection to be made available through the Library’s first venture into full-text digitisation.
For more information on this manuscript, and to look at a digitised version of it, please see its details on the Library catalogue.