Category: Medieval Manuscripts

A Medieval Alternative to Disinfectant

          A medecyn Ayenst           the Pestelence ffirst an handfull of Rewe an handfull of Marygold[es] an handfull of Burnett an handfull of Sorrell half an handfull of ffetherfoy a quantite of dragon[es] of the Croppyc[es] or ell[es] of the rott[es] [i.e. the Tops or roots of dragonwort] And wasshe theym ffeyer in Rynnyng water… Read more »

All That Glisters …

This Hallowmas, as a time for remembering all the faithful departed, known and unknown, I salute John Colyns, Mercer and Bookseller of London, and the anonymous Mediӕval Artisan whose recipes for glues, dyes, and pigments he faithfully transcribed in Middle English during the early 16th century. While exploring his Commonplace Book in the Manuscripts Reading… Read more »

Minions of the Moon, part 2

Minions of the Moon, part 2 – read part 1 here My New Year’s Resolution was to hunt for my hapless alchemist within Chancery Certificates of Statute Merchant and Statute Staple during my first visit of 2019 to the Map and Large Document Reading Room of The National Archives at Kew, but work intervened —… Read more »

Remember, Remember

I had intended to commemorate Guy Fawkes Night by translating an Elizabethan Recipe for Fireworks held in the State Papers Collection of The National Archives at Kew, but it turned out to be more Molotov Cocktail than Sparkler – arguably appropriate to the historic events of the day, but not so much for a how-to-make-this-at-home… Read more »

Minions of the Moon, part 1

To celebrate tonight’s Full “Red Moon”, I pre-ordered another alchemically themed document to view in the Map and Large Document Reading Room of The National Archives at Kew, which recounts the misfortunes of a Practitioner claiming to have made an elixir with the power to transform base materials into Silver. Filed within TNA’s Special Collections… Read more »

Open, locks, Whoever knocks

The 7th of August in the year 1606 saw the first recorded performance of Macbeth, in the Great Hall at Hampton Court. Shakespeare’s addition of three witches into the historical brew was tailored to grab the interest of the evening’s host, King James VI & I, himself an author with a well-known interest in the… Read more »

Through the Looking Glass

Although I carry out most of my research in the Map and Large Document Reading Room at The National Archives, the most precious and sensitive items in its extensive collection have to be viewed under supervision in the Invigilation Room on the floor below – a much less daunting process than it sounds. A member… Read more »

Inky Fingers, part 1

29 May being Oak Apple Day – the anniversary of the Restoration of King Charles II, honouring the ‘Royal Oak’ at Boscobel House which shielded him from Cromwell’s men after the Battle of Worcester – it feels appropriate to spare a thought for the humble oak apple, which plays such a large part in my… Read more »