Monday, January 18, 2016

Duchess of Northumberland Little Book of Poisons, Potions, and Aphrodisiacs

From the creator of the world-famous Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle


Combining the fascinating archive of the first Duchess of Northumberland with the expertise of Jane, the present Duchess and the creator of the famous Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle, this illustrated gift book tells the story of the poison found within the plants that grow wild across Britain's countryside and the medicinal potions that derive from them. Based on the information gleaned from the Poison Garden and the Household Books of the first Duchess of Northumberland, the reader will learn the secrets, past and present, of the poisonous and curative properties of these plants and the more unusual varieties that have been cultivated and planted for centuries. Beautifully illustrated, this is the ideal gift for those with an interest in the wild plants of Britain and for those with an interest in poison and potions.

Publisher: The History Press | Genre: Nonfiction| Source: Gift | Rating: 4 Cups

I’ve always been fascinated with the Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle so I was very pleased to receive this lovely little book as a Christmas present.
The cover is simply gorgeous and while it is a smaller book—it’s a tad smaller than a mass market paperback—it’s hardback and would be brilliant sitting out on display. Although what I loved about this book was the content. The current Duchess of Northumberland, Jane Percy, has shifted through the castle’s historical records starting with Edith Beale’s Book of Recipes from 1576 and ending with 18th and 19th Century Recipes Collected By The 7th Duchess. Each recipe in the book is still in its original dialect, which I absolutely loved.
The recipes range from how To Purge The Heade Of Melancholie to How To Compose A Love Letter. Each recipe is entertaining and insightful.


Recipe For A Bath

Take rose leaves, Mallowes, Lavender, Alacampana seeth all these in water till they be tender and then put in milke. So let the patient sitte in as hote as he maye suffer it and after goe to a warme Bedde and sweate.


To Cure Giddines

A garland made of pennyroyal and worne above the heade is of great store against the swimming Paynes and giddy tourninges of the heade.

Overall, this is a great little book. If you’re an author—or aspiring author—of historical fiction, or history lover, I strongly suggest purchasing this book. My only complaint about this book is that the sketches are all in purple and have a cartoonish look rather than being actual renderings of the plants.

 About the Author: 

Jane Percy, the current and 12th Duchess of Northumberland has long researched poison gardens. She is responsible for creating the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens which is a complex of formal gardens adjacent to the 14th-century old Alnwick Castle in England.
It opened in 2004 to worldwide acclaim. The Poison Garden is the culmination of her life's goal to teach children and adults alike the curative and lethal properties of poisonous plants.
Alnwick Castle has been used as a setting in many films and TV series. Amongst others: Harry Potter (I,II, VI) & Robin Hood (2010).

Have you visited the Poison Gardens?
Or checked out this book?

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