Papworth 100

Patients on the balcony of the Bernhard Baron Hospital, Papworth Village Settlement

Royal Papworth Hospital is a leading cardiothoracic hospital and is best known for its trailblazing work in transplantation since performing the UK’s first successful heart transplant in 1979. However, Papworth has a long standing tradition of pioneering work since its inception as a tuberculosis colony, 100 years ago.

At a time when 41,800 in the UK died from tuberculosis, a young Welshman Dr (later Sir) Pendrill Varrier-Jones was appointed Cambridgeshire TB Officer during WWI. Following sanatorium treatment patients would risk a relapse when they returned to the overcrowded, unsanitary and damp conditions which had led to infection in the first instance. Frustrated by this cycle, Varrier-Jones took a holistic approach to care and wanted to develop a combined treatment and rehabilitation facility that would leave patients, “a useful and productive member of society, a man who, though a consumptive, has learned to be a consumptive, to lead the life of a consumptive and even enjoy that life.”

Having successfully established treatment for a small number of patients in 1916 in the nearby village of Bourn, Varrier-Jones’ vision went through a process of rapid expansion. Papworth Hall was purchased following a large charitable donation in 1917 with the first patients arriving on 12 February 1918.  Patients were prescribed bed rest, a hearty diet and ample fresh air. Once the patient’s condition had improved they were moved onto graduated work within one of the light industries and provisions were available for family members to also settle in the village. Sir Varrier-Jones’ revolutionary aim was to treat the “whole-person,” by providing treatment, suitable employment and allowing patients a home life.

With the discovery of streptomycin in the 1940s, the number of TB patients declined and what was then known as the Papworth Village Settlement opened its remit to include people with other disabilities. This led to the creation of the Papworth Trust, a charity which continues to support disabled people. In 1948, the hospital officially became part of the NHS and became known as Papworth Hospital which moved from the treatment of TB to specialise in chest medicine.

2018 is an important next chapter for us. It’s the year when we become Royal Papworth Hospital, commemorate our centenary, celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS, and move from the village of Papworth Everard to our new state-of-the-art hospital located in the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. We’ve made a film to commemorate with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund (for trailer click here) with the first screening coinciding with the NHS’ 70th birthday on 5th July at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse, this will be followed by screenings in the village of Papworth Everard on 21st July (to book click here) with additional screenings planned for the autumn. This film and screenings were made possible with a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Papworth Hospital Charity

Nico Ferguson, Heritage Assistant
Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

The Pharmacopoeia Londinensis

The Pharmacopoeia Londinensis was originally published in Latin by the Royal College of Physicians in 1618 and translated into English by Nicholas Culpepper in the middle of the seventeenth century. To celebrate its 400th anniversary an illustrated version of the book is to be published later this year.
I am delighted to be one of a number of contemporary botanical artists asked to contribute to this exciting project. I have selected to paint the beautiful and intriguing ‘Rosa damascena’ or the damask rose. A strongly scented rose it is famous for its use in perfume with the fresh petals either distilled as rose water or as one of the worlds most expensive essential oils, 100ml costs more than £1500.00, the petals are also used dried and the hips used fresh or dried. Rosa damascena essential oil is composed of hundreds of components, including citronellol, citral, carvone, citronellyl acetate, eugenol, ethanol, farnesol, stearpoten, methyl eugenol, nerol, nonanol, nonanal, phenylacetaldehyde, phenylmethyl acetate, and phenyl geraniol. There is evidence of its use medicinally going back to the seventh century with a particular link to Iran and the Middle East. Recent studies of the pharmacological effects of the damask rose show it has not only antibacterial and anti oxidant effects, but also anti-viral, anti-depressant, anti-diabetic, analgesic and hypnotic properties.

Detail of Rosa damascena  –  watercolour

All of the medicinal plants painted for this publication and accompanying exhibition can be found growing in the Royal College of Physicians medicinal garden near Regents Park in London. A lecture on the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis and tours of the garden will be part of the RCP/BSHM special event on 11th June 2018. See

I was particularly interested in taking part in this medicinal plant project as I have a multidisciplinary art practice with a strong research base informed by my career as a horticulturalist working in therapeutic community gardens.  I use plants as a way of telling stories about our relationships with the natural world.


Julia Groves

Spa therapy in Stuart and Georgian England at Tunbridge Wells

Water from natural springs has been used therapeutically since antiquity. In the Christian pre-Reformation era the healing properties were often ascribed to the power of the saint to who they were dedicated and so the waters became the object of pilgrimage.

In the mid-sixteenth century Paracelsus (1493-1541) proposed the use of specific minerals in medicine. In England there were wells containing salt, sulphur or iron, known colloquially as salt, stinking or tart. An example of the last was discovered in woodland near Tonbridge in 1605 by Dudley, Lord North (1581-1666).

To promote its use he arranged for clearance of the land, the erection of lodgings and medical publicity with the publication of The Queen’s Wells in 1632 by Ludovick Rowzee, a physician from nearby Ashford.

The advertising was so successful that soon royalty attended. All the Stuart rulers, followed by Queen Mary II and her sister Queen Anne, came for fertility problems mainly associated with the difficulties of producing a male heir. The fashionable attended as it was not too far from London, situated in pleasant countryside and it boasted good facilities for therapy and entertainment.

It was suggested that you should consult your home doctor before travelling as Tunbridge did not accept children, those terminally ill nor those with infectious diseases. On arrival you would be met by Beau Nash (1674-1761) who attended each summer to arrange the entertainments of dancing, gambling and theatre. He would solicit a contribution to their costs.

Next would be a visit to the spa doctor who would recommend your individual regimen. This would include advice concerning bleeding, purging, diet, rest, exercise and moderation in alcohol intake. At Tunbridge one drank the waters rather than bathed in them. Your spa doctor would prescribe your own intake which could be up to eight pints. This would be taken before breakfast, starting with a small dose and working up to the maximum after at least a fortnight and then slowly decreasing again.

Having returned to your lodgings, breakfasted and dressed in one’s finery, you would spend the day at leisure. This could include socialising on the walks near the well, shopping, getting a book from the lending library or attending a long sermon at the local church. Gentlemen might read the daily papers and smoke at the pipe shop. The evening could be spent enjoying Nash’s diversions.

Much of the literature stated that if your ailment was not cured it was either because you had not drunk enough or that you were too mean and your stay was too short to let the waters have their effect.

John Ford

Apothecaries’ 400th Anniversary

English Apothecary Shop 17th Century after Faithorne. Undated illustration

December 6th 2017 saw the 400th anniversary of the granting of a Royal Charter by King James 1 to the Apothecaries and signalled their legal freedom from the Grocers Company. It has colloquially been called Grexit.

The Grocers had always imported the raw materials for making medicines in bulk, en grosse, hence their name. Within the Company, one of the oldest and richest London Livery Companies, there had always been a group who were more interested in compounding medicaments and filling prescriptions rather than in the business of grocery.  By the early seventeenth century this group wanted to form a company of their own which would have the power to regulate apothecaries’ work and police the purity of the drugs they made.

This secessionist group was led by Gideon de Laune, the son of William de Laune a Reformed Church minister and physician who had escaped the Huguenot persecution in France in 1572 and had settled in Blackfriars. Gideon was Apothecary to Anne of Denmark, James’s wife. Also attending the Royal family were Theodore de Mayerne (1573-1654), another Protestant refugee from France and Anne’s Physician, and Henry Atkins (1558-1635) President of the Royal College of Physicians 1607/8 and 1616/17. Atkins wanted the College to have more control over the apothecaries and thought that this could be obtained if they were separate from the Grocers.

Gideon de Laune by Cornelius Johnson 1593-1661

In 1610 the grocer-apothecaries promoted a Bill in Parliament for separation for the Grocers. This fell when Parliament was dissolved in 1611. A second attempt was made in 1614, signed by seventy-six grocer-apothecaries, but this again failed with Parliament’s dissolution. It was called the Addled Parliament and only sat for six weeks. The King acceded to a new apothecaries’ petition in 1615 and a charter was drawn up for royal signature which was delayed by wrangling among the Crown’s legal officers. In the summer of 1617 Bacon was made Regent of England while James made his first visit to Scotland since his accession. Bacon prepared a third charter which was signed on James’ return.

The legal work in preparing the apothecaries’ case was most skilfully done and it has always been thought that this was under the guidance of Francis Bacon. On Bacon’s fall from grace in 1624 he acknowledged that he had received financial favours from both parties to the dispute.

The Grocers backed by the Mayor and City of London fought the secessionists vigorously with petitions and counter claims.  However the drive and ambition of de Laune, underpinned with excellent legal advice and backed by Royal favour and the President of the Royal College of Physicians, ensured that the Apothecaries had their own Society.

John Ford