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Hatfield's Herbal by Gabrielle Hatfield

Hatfield's Herbal by Gabrielle Hatfield

Model Number: 9780140515770

£7.99 GBP

Hatfield's Herbal: The Secret History of British Plants by Gabrielle Hatfield

From ivy-wreathed buildings to dandelions growing in the cracks between paving stones, we are surrounded by a wealth of native plants.

In the past they were a hugely valued resource: magical, mystical and medical.  When Charles I visited Staffordshire, his chamberlain wrote to the local sheriff asking him to ensure that no fern would be burnt or cut during the king's visit, so that the weather would be fine.  Puppies were once fed daisies in milk to keep them small, while children wore chains of the flowers to protect themselves against kidnap by fairies.  Poachers scattered mullein seed on the surface of the water to drug fish, and chewing bramble leaves was believed to alleviate toothache.  Until the nineteenth century the bodies of paupers and suicides were left on trestles in churchyards between death and burial, scattered with feverfew to delay their decay.  St John's Wort was recommended as an antidepressant by St Columba in the sixth century.  Land girls working in the fields during the Second World War dosed their restless babies with poppy tea.  In the flu epidemic of 1918 many Irish people carried wild garlic in their pockets to avoid infection.

Packed with stories and memorable information, this book is the highly personal, very readable result of a lifetime spent researching folk cures and the science behind them.  Outlining the history and uses of over 150 British Plants, Hatfield's Herbal offers a fascinating history of what life was once like.  It is a beautifully illustrated, evocative guide to our most interesting native plants and a passionate argument about why we should better appreciate the riches we already have.


Lily of the valley was used in the First World War to treat the after-effects of poison gas.

In late-nineteenth-century Scotland a charm was still in use for ensuring a husband's faithfulness.  Difficult to prepare and tricky to apply, it consisted of sprinkling over the man's chest a mixture prepared from butterbur, foxglove, royal fern and an old man's bones.

For weather-forecasting any seaweed will do.  Hang a strip of it up in the porch to predict bad weather; if it remains dry and brittle this indicates good weather, but if it becomes moist then rain is expected.