Medicine of Yesteryear
‘Aural History’ recorded about ten years ago.
The medicine people take for their ills has altered greatly since I became a pharmacist 47 years ago. Nearly all of my original training is obsolete today. Medicine used is much more specific to the disease being treated, than the hit and miss remedies of my youth.
Nearly everything was in liquid form and your prescription would be made up from six or seven ingredients carefully compounded together into one bottle, and the dose was usually: ‘One tablespoonful to be taken three times daily’. Bottles were calibrated to help the patient measure out something approaching the correct dose. Sometimes the doctor ordered pills, which were made up according to the prescription, and either sugar coated or silver leaf coated. One pill was known locally as, “Dr. Muriel’s gut-raker”, and I have one in my possession if anyone would like to try it! Ointments were not in a tube, but again made up to the requirements of the physician. Eye drops were made but not always sterilised; something unthinkable today. Up to 1949 only the working man was insured and had free medicine. Anyone else, children included, would be charged for their prescription, unless they paid into a club. There were some forms of treatment that have disappeared completely. It was quite an art to spread a plaster, which might contain belladonna for backache. Ear blisters spread with cantharidin (Spanish fly) were almost obsolete when I began my career. The idea was that the irritation it caused took the patient's mind off a more severe pain elsewhere. Leeches had become obsolete before my time, but more senior colleagues told of a jar of the creatures in each dispensary. They were used for sucking the patient's blood when bleeding was in vogue as a treatment.. Nearly all medicine of yesteryear was compounded from vegetable drugs. Either the root, leaf, or stem and leaf were used. Even the bark of some trees was peeled and used, and quinine had its origin from the bark of the cinchona tree. Resins from trees were useful and are still used in preparations like Friars Balsam. The real difference today is that the active principle of vegetable drugs have been isolated and are used by themselves. An example of this is that where digitalis (foxglove) was made into a tincture, the active part called digoxin is now used by itself, and can be made in the laboratory.
Medicine used today is much more potent, and doses need to be calculated accurately and carefully. Side effects must be looked into, and many tests made before letting them be used for human treatment. Even so, occasional tragedies occur such as the Thalidomide one, which was given to pregnant mums, and many deformed children were born.
Present day Pharmacists are trained to a much higher standard than those of us who qualified nearly half a century ago. Today entrance is by a science degree whereas our examinations were internal ones conducted by the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. I like to think, however, that we received a much wider training, and our work was much more satisfying in making everything ourselves.
Some of our training was to spend time working in a Pharmacy. There were no student grants in those days, and for two years we worked full time, going to evening classes several times a week. The princely salary paid was four shillings per week (20p). My first job each morning was to scrub the floor and dusting and cleaning work was done during the day. The shop door was kept open summer and winter, and the only heating was a small heater in the dispensary.
They were tough and long days, and I was taught that the needs of the patient and customer came first; all good training. To conclude on a lighter note, there was a story circulating in medical and pharmaceutical circles many years ago, that in a rich area of the country was a place where doctors did well out of rich hypochondriac ladies. A standard prescription was given to the patient to present at the local pharmacy. It read, ‘A. D. T., C. L. H.’. Translated it meant – ‘Any damn thing. Charge like hell.’ It might be true, but I was never lucky enough to find that Pharmacy and work there!
Benton End was the home of Cedric Morris and Arthur
Lett-Haines from which they established the East Anglian School of Painting
and Drawing. Gwynneth Reynolds
and Diana Grace have recently published ‘Benton End Remembered’ at £25,
to tell its story.
As you may know Babergh DC are partway through the process of revising the Local Plan which sets out the planning policies that will be followed during the coming years. Tesco are using this process in order to further their wish to build a supermarket on the riverside and are being fully supported by Babergh’s planning officers who have been trying to get a supermarket onto this site for over ten years.
If Tesco were successful in getting the site into the district plan it would make any future planning application almost impossible to resist. They have submitted a number of consultants’ reports and claim that the Secretary of State said, after the last Inquiry, that Hadleigh needs a new supermarket and that the riverside is the only suitable site.
The Inspector actually wrote amongst other things that “the degree of harm I have identified cannot be justified, even in the face of the benefits that the Tesco foodstore would bring to the community” she also wrote “given the conservation and heritage implications of the proposed design and layout it would not be an appropriate solution to meeting the identified need. The environmentally acceptable aspects of the development are not sufficient to override the range of local and national policies on transport and conservation that would be breached”. The Secretary of State endorsed these conclusions.
As this is an attempt to have the land allocated in the Local Plan for a supermarket development and is not a planning application a lot of the detail is missing. However Tesco propose a larger store than in the last application with some 8% of its space devoted to a range of comparison goods (not regular food/household items). The store would be located in a similar position to the last proposal. The car park entrance would be from Bridge Street through the Babergh car park and across the allotments. The Babergh car park would be extended across the allotment land with the allotments moved further along the riverbank onto uncultivated land.
The junction with Bridge Street is only described in vague terms, including an artist’s impression, claiming that all the traffic, including lorries can be accommodated in the space taken up by the present car park exit. They also consider that the junction would not need traffic lights or a roundabout and that there would be space for a traffic island. The artist’s impression shows the line of the bridge altered in a way that would require major rebuilding of the bridge, which is a listed structure.
Their proposal for the store, although not detailed, is for a modern design using glass, stainless steel and coloured metal.
If they can get the land into the local plan then they are asking the District Council to facilitate the acquisition of the land for the entrance, including if necessary compulsory purchase of the Town Council’s allotments.
QD Stores/Buyright are proposing a variation of their last application that would locate a new supermarket close to the Calais Street part of their site and therefore closer to the High Street. They have confirmed that this would be for one of the major supermarkets.
The Local Plan is being considered by the Council’s strategy committee and is due to go to the full Council in February. The Local Plan Inquiry, conducted by an Inspector as part of the revision process, is expected to take place in late summer possibly in August. Whatever the Council decide about the land allocation, there is likely to be an objection either by Tesco or ourselves and the issues will be fully aired at the Inquiry. However, unlike an appeal inquiry, the Inspector can only make a recommendation.
The final decision as to whether the riverside site should be allocated for a supermarket will still be made by the District Council, so please make your feelings known in letters to our Councillors. You may also like to write both to the Chief Executive and to the Chairman of Babergh District Council.
‘Nicknames’ seem to be something of a habit now
being lost to the past. However, in the 1930’s, and probably much before,
nicknames were used to distinguish individuals within a family, a physical
attribute, a profession or sometimes merely to ‘cut down to size’ someone
who considered themselves a little better than the herd.
My own father having been christened ‘Chevalier’ and pronounced Chevaleer, was called ‘ Val’ and I was known as ‘Young Val’ to some. Sometimes first names were too much to bear so that ‘Hastings’ Double became ‘Hasty’ and Philip Wilson of Wilson’s Corn and Milling Company became ‘Piggy’ merely because his initials were ‘PG’. Below is probably a by no means exhaustive list of nicknames given to me by a long time Hadleigh resident, who I think might wish to remain nameless! If you can add to the list, please drop a note to the editor.
John Bloomfield aka ‘Blonkers’
or Dozy Ramplin
(See next Newsletter for a contribution from Sue Andrews)
Mary's Counter Reformation in the Hadleigh Area
on Clive Paine’s talk, 28th November
It is probably well known that Hadleigh had a martyr, Dr Rowland Taylor. Not so many people are familiar with why he died or how he lived, but after listening to Clive Paine’s animated talk on Thursday there are now 70 people with a better understanding of this story. The Edwardian reformation that had been the topic of last year’s talk ended with Edward’s death at 15. His ‘device for succession’ attempted to avoid Mary negating all the reforms by naming a line of succession on the other branch of the family. Whilst many would have preferred this from a religious point of view they recognised Mary’s rightful claim and her reign began in Suffolk at Framlingham. Stopping in Ipswich en route to London, one of her first acts was to write to the Sheriff of Suffolk to command the arrest of Dr Taylor on suspicion of heresy. With the Bishops already taken care of, he was the next most prominent figure as an opponent of her counter-reformation. He had been chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer, involved in arranging Henry’s divorce and in translating religious works into English. With the reformation laws repealed in 1553 his marriage was unlawful but he resolutely defied the new laws.
Clive illustrated some of the impact on local churches by showing more extracts from the records left by the Long Melford churchwarden, Roger Martin. Having disposed of the assets no longer needed by the reformed church, he had the task of replacing them at Mary’s command.
East Anglia had more than its fair share of Martyrs, 64 arrested, 30 burned, out of a national total of 300 (a figure matched by Elizabeth, but over nearly 50 years rather than Mary’s 5). Apart from the 2 clergy, both from Hadleigh, the gentry avoided death, perhaps because they could afford good lawyers.
History is always written by the winning side, and in this case the main source is Fox’s Book of Martyrs which is a very biased account. Rowland Taylor was undoubtedly a very prominent churchman, one of a group of 8 who drew up the 42 articles that defined the Anglican Church, a preacher at Canterbury, and an Archdeacon of Exeter. Despite all this he chose to stay in Hadleigh, and his flock loved him for it.
The confrontation in his church was a ‘set up’, but with the law as it was, he was also in the wrong. We heard the accounts of his imprisonment in London and of his final journey back to Hadleigh (via Lavenham). Who did he think would most regret his end? He said, the worms of Hadleigh churchyard!
The monument at Aldham common is well known locally, but 100 years ago there were also monuments erected in Bury and Ipswich to commemorate all the Suffolk martyrs.
As a postscript, there has been a long line of Rowland Taylor’s, and the last is still living in Colchester, but with no heirs.