The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries

This blog is all about the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries and their recent 3-day history of medicine course which ran from 1st-3rdMay. This fascinating course comprised a series of interesting lectures, spanning the history of medicine over two thousand years in Europe and beyond.

 

Image 1: Worshipful Society of Apothecaries Coat of Arms

 

The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries is quite simply an historical gem nestled in central London, a stone’s throw from St Paul’s Cathedral. Like many of the other London livery companies, the Society of Apothecaries looks rather unassuming from the street. But, walk into the courtyard, and then through the main entrance up a beautiful seventeenth-century staircase into the court room or parlour, and prepare to be met by gorgeous wood paneling, impressive life-size portraits of various Society benefactors and lots of rhinos – the Society’s emblem for over 400 years! The origins of the Grocers and Apothecaries of London can be traced back to 1180. In 1617, the Apothecaries separated from the Grocers to form the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London.

 

Image 2: The Court Room

The delegates that were attending the course were of varying backgrounds – medical students, practising doctors, pharmacists, historians, nurses, museum curators and those with a general interest in the history of medicine. Such an eclectic group of people made for probing questions and stimulating discussion at the end of each lecture.

The talks during the course covered a broad range of themes and topics – there really was something for everyone! Day one featured art and surgery, the history of the coroner, the founding of voluntary hospitals and disease and medicine in ancient Egypt. Day two brought talks focused on medicine in Scotland and Japan as well as women in medicine and a broad overview of Britain and world medicine. On the final day, we were treated to the history of pharmacy, the history of X-rays and a talk on the archaeological findings from Salisbury Plain as well as a general overview of the history of clinical medicine. All in all, a satisfying and fulfilling course that provided a comprehensive overview of the history of medicine.

Anyone interested in attending the History of Medicine course or applying for the Diploma in the History of Medicine (DHMSA) at the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries should consult the following website for the most up-to-date information:

 

https://www.apothecaries.org/diploma-in-the-history-of-medicine/

 

Image 3: Dürer’s Rhinoceros – emblem of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries

 

Lucy Havard.

Now Walks Like Others

How were poor crippled children treated in England during the late 19th and early 20th centuries before the advent of free healthcare through the NHS and the Welfare State?

A group of  Northampton children – all very keen on medical history – believe that if medical history is to be truly relevant it must live. So one day, while happening to sit in an outpatient clinic they decided to answer the above question using the extensive historical archive held at Northampton General Hospital. They give their answers with a short film (20 mins, link at end of post).

 

        

Image 1: CC BY Credit: Science Museum, London

The Northampton Crippled Children’s Fund (NCCF, 1893-1925) provided medical care for ‘poor crippled children in straightened circumstances under 17 years of age’ initially in Northampton and eventually county-wide. It also gave long term dietary supplementation and summer seaside holidays. It had wide community support. In its final year before the opening of the Manfield Orthopaedic Hospital it treated 3000 children. Crippled Children’s Funds were widespread in the UK before the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS) but there are few surviving records and research has been limited in this area.

My day job is as a consultant community paediatrician. This film is a way of introducing medical history to my patients, keeping my day job interesting and giving something back to the community where I work.

The children involved in the film are my patients, their siblings and members of Theze Guyz Theatre Company, Northampton. Together, working with healthcare professionals and historians they relate, recreate and assess the work of the Northampton Crippled Children’s Fund within its historical context. The film includes full medical and dietetic reconstructions, and some cartoons. You can view it using the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvU8suIPTiU

The film credits acknowledge the funders who made this film happen.

The film was written and directed by Professor Andrew N Williams PhD FRHistS consultant community paediatrician and curator of Archive, Northampton General Hospital.

 

Andrew Williams