Herbal Medicine from Gilbert White to Jane Austen
David Standing has been the head gardener at Gilbert White's house since 1979 and will be giving a short talk exploring herbal medicine in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A wide range of herbs were known to both Gilbert White & Jane Austen, and many of these are mentioned in Hannah Glasses Cookery Book, a volume we know that Gilbert White purchased and was re-printed in the Regency period . The book gives instructions on how to make such things as hysterical, plague and surfeit water, interesting ways to cure the ailments of the period! These could have been administered to Jane by Gibraltar Jack, Gilbert White’s surgeon nephew… we explore the possibilities!
Gilbert White is renouned for his botanical study "The Natural History of Selborne", and the work continues today. The original garden layout had been altered considerably over time, so the trust now running the museum have gradually been restoring the garden and surrounding lands back to how it would have been. Although it is unlikely that Gilbert White and Jane Austen met - he died before she moved to Chawton - they are from the same era and the use of medicinal herbs was very much in use as part of general medical practice and home-made remedies.