The best things in life

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By | From the Collections

What would you consider to be the most valuable objects in your home? Your laptop? Photo albums? Favourite clothes? Probably not the contents of your bathroom cabinet. But for Elizabeth Freke, living in Norfolk at the turn of the 17th century, the ‘best things’ in her house included her large stockpile of homemade medicinal drugs.

You can find out why, and learn about the range of healthcare options available to people in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, in Elaine Leong’s article ‘Sickness, salves and skillets’ in the January 2010 issue of BBC History Magazine (also available to listen to as a podcast interview).

To explore recipes and remedies further, go to Warwick University’s new Recipes, Remedies, Receipts website for contextual articles and links to online resources (including the Wellcome Library’s fine collection of 16th-19th century recipe manuscripts), plus the chance to share information on your own pre-modern recipe collection, if you are lucky enough to own one! The website is continually being updated, so keep checking back for new articles, links and events.

Helen Wakely

Helen Wakely is Archives Project Manager at the Wellcome Library.

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