Dr Peter Holland, not only mixed with the gentry, but also showed concern for the poor. Developing a large practice in the Knutsford area, as well as working for the Leicesters at Tabley, the Stanleys at Alderly and the Egertons at Tatton, he was the family medical practioner for the Greg family and took responsibility for the medical care of the Greg’s apprentice children.
Dr Holland requested that certain products were always kept in stock in the Apprentice House Medical cupboard and in this week’s post, Philip Charnley, Garden and Archive volunteer, tells you about his research into the medicinal uses of plants within the Apprentice House. So lets hand over to Phillip:
As well as looking into the recorded treatment of the apprentices, I have also been helping Ann Gaughaun (Deputy Head Gardener) with the medical uses of herbs and plants grown in the Apprentice House garden. Plants have always been, and still are, important for their medical properties and many of the plant items on Dr Holland’s list would have been available in the garden adjoining the house or in the local hedgerows.
Rhubarb and camomile are the most used items. Rhubarb was and is in fact still used in stomach mixtures and camomile was used to soothe and calm. It is still widely used today, most popularly as Camomile Tea and in sleeping aids to help the person relax . Camomile eye wash was used on Hannah Riley, an apprentice, on 14th Aug 1819. Camomile tea was given to John Robinson, apprentice, 4th Nov 1812 and a camomile poultice was applied to Ann Davies, apprentice, on New Year’s day 1815.
There are many references to Laudanum and Poppy Heads were kept in the store cupboard. I doubt if they made their own Laudanum from these but the use of this morphine based product on young children was not uncommon. Digitalis (from the foxglove plant) was also used and William Wyatt, apprentice, was given this on 2nd Oct 1823. He had been very ill for some time and sadly died 2 weeks later.
Other plants that were regularly used include Ginger, Sage, Peppermint and Spearmint, Juniper and Horehound. Ann hopes to do a lot of replanting in the Apprentice House garden in 2015 and more stories of the plants, children and their treatments will be incorporated into displays and information boards.
Look out for displays on the plants in the Apprentice Garden soon. If you have any questions on your visit, the gardening team, including volunteers, are very friendly, so please do ask.