Lady Johanna Sainte John gathered recipes and physicks from friends and family throughout the late 1600’s. Compiled in a leather-bound book of some 300 pages, many of the recipes credit both the source and the person restored, giving us a fascinating glimpse of the health of Lady Johanna and her neighbours. I like to think that just as we do today, she asked far and wide for the best recipes and curatives – and that some of these were contributed by Lucy St. John and her daughter, Johanna’s cousin, Lucy Hutchinson. Both women were renowned herbalists.
Many of the recipes include herbs and flowers that are found in any English garden. Others require more complex compounds that would have been purchased from the apothecary shops in a large city.
Very little went to waste. In this recipe, which calls for vast quantities of sack (probably a lot safer to drink than the water), the wine was reused to treat consumption, once it had done its work in creating the cordial.
Lady Johanna’s Book is now in the Wellcome Library London, a unique collection of medicinal manuscripts and artifacts managed by The Wellcome Trust.
Photo Credit: Wellcome Library, London