‘Wine mixed with garlic, crabs-eyes and ‘’the powder of a stag’s pizzle’’ ’ – according to The Family Dictionary, an early manual of home-made cures, this is what you may have been given if you had bladder problems in the 17th century! Now the secrets of early modern household knowledge are being showcased in Cambridge’s St John’s College Library – the first time historic recipe books and physicians’ manuals from the 17th century have gone on public display. For History applicants this presents a rare and unrivalled opportunity to engage with the social life of the 17th century, with displays ranging from both the culinary and medicinal. Inside you will find the first British recipe for curry, home-made cures for everything from toothache to smallpox, as well as the vast and bizarre set of skills expected from women in this period. The history of the household and modern medicine are subjects that can be explored in greater depth at undergraduate level, with Cambridge providing modules in the study of food and drink, and the modern body. Meanwhile, the History and Philosophy of Science route available to Natural Scientists, Psychologists and HSPS applicants brings together study of many different disciplines, over a period extending from the Renaissance to the present day: from early astronomy, alchemy and natural philosophy, to the atomic bomb and the discovery of DNA. The exhibition, titled Blancmange to make, Blisters to draw, is open free of charge to the general public from 9am-5pm Monday-Friday until October 2014. For those that can’t make it in person, a digital version of the exhibition can be found online.
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