Home remedies

Some of the womenfolk were skilled herbalists, gathering all sorts from the hedgerows to cure every ill. Robin Shepheard remembers his grandparents, Walter and Daisy Newbery, making: all kinds of potions and herbal remedies from rose hips, elderberries, blackberries, sloes, etc. which were all collected together with leaves from various plants.

 I swear there was not a plant or berry that could not be crushed to cure any ailment.

‘Mother Elder’ was probably so named because every bit of the plant was useful - the berries, the flowers and even the bark can be used as an anti-histamine. Elder flowers infused with yarrow flowers and mint made a tea for curing colds and flu.

The following ingredients for a ‘Linament for Lumbago’ were found among Rita Whitewood’s possessions in Rose Cottage in 2007.  This cure must have been much sought after for it to have been written down so carefully: 

Break two new laid eggs into a pint jug, beat up with a fork then put two eggcupfuls of spirit turpentine, beat up again then put four and a half eggcupfuls of best vinegar. Beat up once more, put into bottle and shake well for 5 minutes.  In a postscript to the recipe we are exhorted: the eggs must be new laid warm from the nest if you can get them. What it does not stipulate is whether you then drink it or rub it in...

The cure for being stung by stinging neetles was to find a dock leaf, spit on it and rub it into the affected area. It would only work if accompanied by the rhyme, ‘Dock go in, sting come out,’ which had to be repeated all the time you were rubbing it in. It seemed to work!  

Syrup of figs would have been in everyone’s medicine cupboard (judging by the number of bottles found in garden tips) along with rose hip syrup for vitamin C. Joan Moss (Bull) remembers: We picked hips from the hedgerows - there were plenty up Brook Shute above the Church and these were used to make rosehip syrup. 

A Ministry of Food recipe during the War: 

Rosehip Syrup (using 2lb of hips)

Boil 3 pints of water. Mince hips in a course mincer and put immediately into the boiling water. Bring to boil and then place aside for 15 minutes. Pour into a flannel or linen bag and allow to drip until the bulk of the liquid has come through. 

Return the residue to the saucepan, add one and a half pints of boiling water, stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Pour back into the bag and allow to drip. To make sure all the sharp hairs are removed put back the first half cupful of liquid and allow to drip through again. 

Put the mixed juice into a clean saucepan and boil down until the juice measures about one and a half pints, then add one and a quarter lbs of sugar and boil for a further 5 minutes. Pour into hot sterile bottles and seal at once.