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Apothecary by Kenn School skye 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 Amaya, Rayaan, Lucy, Jess and Joel.

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

Caterpillar poison and smoked water

As you approach the stall, you see a small, wooden shelf. On the shelf are 5 jars of varying sizes. Some big, some small - but all different. To match the jars are 4 stained, wooden clubs. On each side of the shelf are navy blue flags with bubbling cauldrons in the centre. Strangely, there is no chair at this stall, just a small, tattered cushion. It is embroidered with dancing witches holding lethal-looking knives. The healer is at one side of the cushion. Her black hood is up and you can just make out a malevolent gleam in her piercing, deep eyes. She has the biggest of all 5 of the clubs in her hand, ready to try and cure the innocent victim.

"Take a seat," she whispers in her low, seemingly echoing voice. The soldier squeezes his eyes tight and sits, very cautiously, on the ragged cushion. When he opens them the healer is in front of him with her club rocking gently in her hand.

Bash! The soldier is very dizzy and may take some time to recover but is not unconscious.
The healer reaches for a plain, cold jar of water and unscrews the magenta lid. She takes a second jar from the shadowy depths, full of matches. One is selected, not at random, and lit by running the head against the rough grain of the shelf. The match is dipped into the jar of water for precisely three seconds- not a moment more or less. Then she takes another transparent jar from the shelf and removes the lid, that is this time lime green. Inside, there are around 30 wriggling, dangerous - looking caterpillars. The healer took all of them except
3 and squeezed them extraordinarily tightly. The red-is liquid that came out in large droplets all went into the first jar. Then she took a relitively large tinted glass jar and took off the pink lid. She picked up a big club.

Please write on your sheet before you move on.
The next chapter will reveal by walking around the periphery wall of Cathedral Green in a clockwise manner.
Chapter five

The unicorn magic

As you approach the healer, you start to feel like if this was the wrong idea but you realise it's too late to turn around.

When you go inside the special temporary room you see so many weird hints, like fungus and chicken legs. At the very end of the room was a black table with a chair, I he middle was a big white box. You go and wait then the healer open the box and inside he pulls out a unicorn horn, dragon wings, here octopus tentacles and a mythical sea creature head. He hen took down a jar from the top shelf and inside scooped out a gravelly mixture, this was made from dried goats eyes a day tarantula bodies.

Then he took all of the things and took them to a bowl then put the radio on really confusing music then started to mix all the ingredients and put them in the oven. After about 20 minutes he took the melted mixture and poured it into a cup you then see instructions. So you followed the instructions and pour half on your face and half you drink. Then for 10 minutes you feel like if you have been poisoned so you howl in pain. After a while you feel normal again and then before you leave you ask the healer what is the secret ingredient. The healer tells you it's unicorn horn magic.

When you start to leave you think about not going back.
Continue beside the low wall which marks the edge of Cathedral Green.
Chapter six

the blood spray

As you approach the healer you can see a narwhal and half a cup of dog slobber plus a pigs i ball and a table with a basket on top was a purple deep red cloth. In the basket was a fungi and a shot glace full of wart pus. They were all in one hole bowl the healer wallet in. The towards me the floor starts to shake he crushes up all the things in the bowl. it makes a deep deep deep red blood liquid he poor s it in to an funny looking tube she comes over to me and says sit! .

I look behind me and as see an old and antique looking chair you sit down it on the chair it makes a sort of squeaking sound she was wearing a raged dress with slimy seaweed on it i think he was Latin . he sprays the blood on my wart I was so so so glad it over but I new it was not going to work.
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

The snakes dragon fly wings

As you approach the stall, everything is calm . You see a woman wearing a light blue dress and a shiny green necklace.She also has ivy around her arm for a nice touch. You come across a shelf it has three things on.

Bees in jars, snakes in a baskets and dragon fly wing's in rusty old jar.Then you look around you also find a box of tools for different things .
She sees you looking at it and says don't touch that. Then you close the box loudly. She brings you into the room without looking at you, she brings the things with her.

The door room slowly creeks. Then she sat down and said the wart will be gone after this. She mixes the snakes, bees and dragon fly wings . It mixes into a stinky liquid. She gets a dropper and gets the mixture and drops it onto the wart. She says the wart is gone now .Then I saw that In my pocket was a nut. Which made me think has it actually gone then I thought it must of.

Please write in log sheet before moving on .

Continue along the pavement on Cathedral Green, the next chapter is at an intersection of pavements.
Chapter eight

The magic potion cure

As you approach the horrible,wicked healer you see some odd things like a zebra,a black widow spider and some very smelly fungi all together on a big table next to a very comfy looking mattress.

You see the healer mush up the fungi and then put it in a ancient Roman vase, pick a knife and cut the zebras cheek open as he did this the zebras eyebrow raised in pain, he got the blood and put it into the same Roman vase as he put the fungi in.Then he finally got the black widow and pulled the pupils off it`s sad eyeballs they add these into the vase as well
as the zebra blood and the Fungi.

Then suddenly he tells the petrified soldier to drink all of the slimy liquid he quickly
does how he is told but it doesn`t work.
Continue along the pavement to the next path intersection which is only a few meters along.
Chapter nine

Ringer Stinger

As you approach the stall you see the healer all dressed in yellow with a hexagon pattern on her top. She has a box on the table which is buzzing frantically and the friar thinks bees might be inside.

The soldier is guided to the chair, his wart stands proudly on the end of his nose awaiting treatment.

So the healer picks out one of the bees by its wings and then positions the insect so that it stings the soldiers' wart. He squirms with pain but holds himself tightly in position as another bee is brought over and that one stings him too. Again and again until his nose is red and swollen with bee stings and the wart is completely invisible due to the swelling. Tears of pain stream from the soldiers' eyes and he is thankful to finally get out of the chair.

The friar then approaches to see if the wart has gone, but to no surprise the wart is still their just more inflamed after being stung so much!

‘We will monitor it over the coming week' said the friar.

He then turns to you to make a note on your monitoring slip before you move on.
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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