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Apothecary by Kenn School ruby group

Welcome to the Apothecary Storywalk created for Exeter Daisi - Re Boot Project.

The cathedral monks have had enough of the 'folk' cures which are being sold to innocent and vulnerable locals, so they set a competition and invite local healers to test their skills and find out if any of their unorthodox cures actually do work.

Chapters in this story were written by Evie, Sarah, Claudia, William, Isaac and Ewan.

This Storywalk begins in front of Exeter Cathedral, walk there now to reveal the first chapter.
Chapter one

Cathedral Green

As you cross the cathedral green your basket is overflowing with a bushel of fragrant new herbs and spices, all fresh off the boat from Exeter quay after their journey from distant lands.

If correctly mixed and prepared these very plants could remedy ills, remove aches and pains, fix troubling coughs and perhaps even repair a broken heart. But if used wrongly then they would do nothing, or worse hurt the very person they were trying to help.

Today inside your basket you see a small wooden box of dry twigs, a neat bundle of seed pods (which smell very sweet) and several stone jars of oils with wax seals on top. You carry this valuable cargo across the green to the cathedral apothecary where all manner of poultices and tinctures are being prepared by the friars.

Today the cathedral green is both a garden, where many herbs are being grown and a graveyard, as by law, all who die in the city must be buried here. Some of the herbs grown are good for cooking, others good for brewing, some are good to keep food from spoiling, others are good to eat with spoiled food. None of the herbs are grown for no reason at all, everything here has a use and a purpose.
Chapter two

The Quacks

Inside the apothecary a friar precisely mixes ingredients to a recipe he knows by heart, whilst another is telling him about local rogue physicians who are brewing up hedge back weeds to cure all ills. The head monk listens quietly and shakes his head in agreement and wonders what should or could be done about these quacks.

But as he thinks he has a bright idea.

‘Why don't we have a competition, we can invite all the local healers and physicians to provide a poultice or system to cure an ailment, like a wart or something and then we put it to the test? You never know what knowledge is out there and this may be just the way to find it. It could also uncover the charlatans for what they truly are and if any succeed then they will have our blessing and by default that of our lord.'

‘Oh very good, I shall send out word immediately.'

And so a decree was announced, the word was put out about the city and outlying villages for all healers and physicians to come display their skills on St Panteleons feast day.
Chapter three

The Competition Begins

It is St Panteleons feast day, the patron saint of physicians and the cathedral green is swarming, there are stalls everywhere and each has a different wart cure solution. The friars have a team of soldiers all with warts on the ends of their noses, ready to be healed.

Take your monitoring slip and follow the friar around the green.
The first chapter will open by walking to the marble statue of Richard Hooker.
Chapter four

cats claw cure

As you approach the healer it is a very hot but heaverly raining In the distance there was a bit a of blue sky and a rainbow standing tall and proud! At the healers desk there was a musty dusty cabinet holding everything from rats tails to cats claws. The healer asks whats the problem is the soldier says can't you see the wart on my nose. Are says the healer I've got a perfect cure for that. It's made from rhino and hippo blood 400 pig eyelashes grated cat claws and cut up chicken claws. Then hopefully the next morning it will be a paste. you roll all of the paste into a ball except 7 pieces then put all of the pieces in the oven you still don't touch the other 7. You eat the baked cure twice a day and put the unbaked on your nose.
The next chapter will reveal by walking around the periphery wall of Cathedral Green in a clockwise manner.
Chapter five

A fish in mouldy water

As you approach the healer your tummy starts to rumble, but it only starts to bubble because the healer you are supposed to be going to is looking a little bit strange and nothing like a healer at all. He is wearing an old raggy patched up lab coat, he has a Scottish accent and an un-known hair style. His shoes were made out of leather and adder skin. He even had advertisements about doctors and healers and things like this. On his lab cat there was smothered blood as well. You also feel a tingle down your spine except you have never felt anything like what you are feeling now.

Then suddenly the healer comes over to you and tries to comfort you in a odd way by saying "come on little boy", even though you know that the healer knows that you are grown up, "lets take you into my healing lab." When the healer says this you feel a little bit dis placed than you did before but you don't mind because all that is on your mind is i must get rid of your wart. When the healer goes in you realise that you can't help noticing how crooked and brown the healers teeth are. But again you don't care as long as the healers method or cure gets rid of your wart.

So you go in to the lab all confident but when you really step into this crazy world of curing you find that all your nerves start to kick in again. But you then realise how badly this lab needs a clean. You see that there is a grey chair in the center of the room except it has loads of huge holes in it. The walls are half painted and half not painted. You also realise that the shelves are all wonky and crooked and that all of the medicines and cures are falling off. So you then decide that you can go and clean up all the mess so you do. But as you start to pick everything up the healer arrives back in the room and shouts "STOP!" at you. Then you are horrified and want to run out of the room but you are sensible and say "I was just trying to,to,to um clean up. Yeah. I probably should've asked first but all your cures were falling off and so there wasn't any time to go to you because everything would of fallen off."
"Oh. Well I personally think we should get to work on trying to kill this wart of yours don't you think..."
"Of course. I have been dreading this wart for as long as I have had it."
"Ok. My cure for warts has pieces of fish mouldy water which we mix in with the fish. Then I get a hornet stinger and put it into the fish and mouldy water and finally i have some ladybird wings and mix everything together.
"I am sorry but i am not sure this is the right thing. I mean it looks like you're really busy and probably don't have time for this so i will be off."
"No. I am not busy at all. You can stay. Right here is a drop of my potion."
You then look over at the healer and you realise that they haven't taken a drop of this cure they have taken a big cup of this cure. They then come over to you and drop all of the cure onto your wart. They then look at you with an odd expression because you are screaming in pain because of how many hornet stingers were in that cure.

"Ok. So, your wart will be gone in one week. We will be examining it very closely."

One week later...

"Nooo! My wart hasn't gone and the healer said it was supposed to be gone in a week and it has been a week!"
You then hope that you never have a wart again and if you do then you will just live with it.
Continue beside the low wall which marks the edge of Cathedral Green.
Chapter six

the toeds toes

As you approach the stall the, a brown door opens and a old man drags you into the hut and pushes you into a hard lever chair in the corner of the stall. he gets a big black coat out of a broacan Colbert and raps it around his body . then he gets some shoes mad of 1000 dragon fly wings out of a small wardrobe .
then he gets a live toed and starts plucking off his toes and puts them in a cup with viniger in it. after that he gets a gray rabbit out of a mettle cadge and cuts off his ears and starts crushing them into tiny shreds of rabbit ears. with the left over he started squeezing the rabbit head to make his eyes pop out . then he mixed it and mixed it over a flaming hot fire and it became a soothe paste. he got the paste and scrubbed the paste on the nose were the wort was.the man said
"leave it on for 120 hours 57 minutes and 39 seconds now don't wash ore sleep ore move because it will come off.i will get you what ever you wont."
Follow the pavement on Cathedral Green which runs back towards the front of the Cathedral. The next chapter is not far along this path.
Chapter seven

Bees and snakes cure

As you approached the healer, busy beggars running around begging for food. Then you come across a scary healer, with a frightening look across his face. Then it starts to rain instantly a bolt of lightning lashes down.
Continue along the pavement on Cathedral Green, the next chapter is at an intersection of pavements.
Chapter eight

The Mosquito Cure

As you approach the healer you walk into a dark room with webs and a chair. The healer was wearing black shorts and a black T shirt. You went to the healer an you said I got a wart on the end of my nose said the soldier holding a shield. I have just the thing said the doctor in a croaky voice. She took him over to the chair. The soldier was forced to drop his shield and to sit down on the chair. All around him he could see mosquitoes. The doctor said I use these for the cure. now are you ready. Yes. The mosquitoes started to suck at his wart and it disaped in a week.
Continue along the pavement to the next path intersection which is only a few meters along.
Chapter nine

Shark blood

As you approach the stool you see fireants and earwigs. The healer is wearing green and yellow stripy shorts. He is also wering a black t shirt with red spots. His costume is brand new and very sleek. He has a normal Australian acsent echoing around the room.

The patient is wering a blue and black stripy bandana. What's the problem asks the healer look the wart on big fat nose it's annoying me so much. OK said the healer I've got the perfect cure for that in his echoing voice. It is made of crushed up fireants and earwigs and some shark blood.You kneed to drink it every day for 2 weeks At exactly 12 o clock pm.
Now go back to where our story began for the conclusion of this tale.
Chapter ten

The Finale

The following weekend all the healers gather with a large crowd to await judgment here on the cathedral green. They are all eager and confident and are now ready for the friar to announce the winner.

There is quiet as the friar stands and begins to address the gathering.

‘Good healers of Exeter city, thank you for taking part in this unique experiment. This commission was designed to unlock knowledge for the good people of Exeter.'

The crowd nod to each other in approval.

‘The criteria for successful eradication of the wart is as follows'.

He then lifts up his first finger ‘point one, will be if the wart has been completely removed after the week is up.'

‘Point two' and he lifts up his second finger ‘will be how inconvenient it was for the wart sufferer to under go the treatment.'

He then lifts up a third finger ‘point three will be what complications the treatment created for the inflicted during the treatment and beyond.'
Chapter eleven

The Treatments

‘So there were many great treatments which have not worked, the first was to sever the head of an eel, rub the blood on to the wart and then burry it beneath a full moon.'

The crowd nod as they have tried this one themselves or a similar one with a potatoe.

‘This was tested and did not work' said the friar.

The crowd look very surprised, but the friar continues.

‘The next was to wear a live toad in a bag around your neck until the toad died'. Again the crowd nod, but the friar continues ‘that didn't work either.'

‘Then we have the selling and buying of warts of which many of the healers claimed to be effective. The most common of these was to put as many pebbles as warts you had in a cloth bag and leave it by a cross roads. An unsuspecting traveller would pick up the package and therefor own the warts.' The friar waits a moment before saying ‘this was tested and also does not work.'

The crowd mumble in surprise.

‘Then there was the selling of a wart to the dead, which was generally done by rubbing the wart on the shoe of a pallbearer (person carrying the coffin) in the belief that the dead would then take your wart to the grave.'

The friar looks across the crowd before saying again ‘this was tested and does not work.'

The crowd mumble in surprise again, then the friar finishes.

‘In fact, of all the remedies, therapies and treatments not a single one has worked. Every single cure or procedure which you healers have brought to this reputable place was either useless or worse.'

The crowd gasp in surprise, the friar then looks across at all the healers and says simply, ‘what we really need . . . . is a cure for rogues, thieves, con-artists and quacks like you' and the crowd begin to boo the healers.
Chapter twelve

In the Name of Science

‘But in the name of science, next year on St Panteleons feast day we shall pursue this seam of knowledge again, as all the soldiers still need curing of warts.'

‘Until then, you know where to come for help' he says and then turns towards the apothecary to continue his good work.

Chapter thirteen


Which cure do you think was most likely to work?

Do you think any of the healers should have won the competition?

How would you like to cure the wart?

What insects would you like to use?

How would you prepare your remedy?

What would you expect the patient to do in order for the cure to work?
Chapter fourteen


A few facts about this story.

Firstly, the cathedral green was a cemetery until 1637 when due to overcrowding it was moved. At that time the green itself was believed to have been a few feet higher than it is today due to these internments.

There has been a presence of apothecaries and healers across Exeter with the first being credited to the friars of the cathedral.

The ‘cures' in the final chapter were drawn from historic accounts many of which had a time element inbuilt as warts have a natural life cycle and generally disappear as the body reacts to the virus.

The images from the Welcome Collection are fabulous windows into the minds of the people of the time. The etching of a surgeon removing ‘stones' from the head of their client is testament to the desperation and general crudity of the physicians procedures.

The Toad in the Silk bag was obtained from the Exeter area in 1930 from the Edward Lovett collection of amulets and charms.

There is no evidence there was ever a competition set up by the friars or cathedral (it is very unlikely they would have). But this narrative construct enabled pupils from local schools to engage creatively with the history of Exeter and get beneath the cities skin in a rather different way.

I hope you have enjoyed the stories.

These are the schools who have been involved.
Chapter fifteen

images Copyright

Image 1 - The Apothecary - Martin Engelbrecht - Welcome Collection

Image 2 - Stone Folly - P Quast - Welcome Collection

Image 3 - Apothecary Riding a Horse - W E G - Welcome Collection

Image 4 - Moth - C Jelley

Image 5 - Cricket - C Jelley

Image 6 - Pearls - C Jelley

Image 7 - Toad - C Jelley

Image 8 - Snail - C Jelley

Image 9 - Flute - C Jelley

Image 10 - Silk bag with Frog - Welcome Collection

Image 11 - The Dentist - Watercolour - Welcome Collection

Image 12 -The Apothecaries Wife - Martin Engelbrecht - Welcome Collection

Image 13 - Corn Cure - Welcome Collection

Image 14 - A Country Apothecary - Welcome Collection

Images from Welcome Collection under Creative Commons Licence.
Images from C Jelley for sole use by Storywalks.
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