horrible history show - Tooth Puller by Les Pickford 1024 (1)

A new exhibition which may not be for the squeamish among us is opening at Nantwich Museum!

It’s called “Ouch! A slightly horrible history of health and disease in Nantwich” and runs in the Millennium Gallery until October 23.

It takes visitors on a quirky, whistle-stop journey into Nantwich’s past from around the 17th to the early 20th century, acquainting them with some of its noteworthy people.

Stories offer insights into how the townsfolk managed to cope with everyday health problems, frequent outbreaks of contagious and often fatal disease and the occasional unfortunate accident.

Supporting material provides an opportunity to delve deeper into the past.

Some illness was attributed to the supernatural and clergy had a significant role in matters related to health, healing and death.

Light is also shed on the work of certain local health care professionals, the services of whom had to be paid for privately prior to the National Health Service.

People often turned first to cheaper, home-made remedies; sometimes made with what we would today consider as strange ingredients, whilst more exotic and expensive treatments could be purchased from an apothecary.

Apothecary Shop by Les Pickford 1024 (1)
Apothecary Shop, by Les Pickford

Poverty is often associated with ill health and in the past, care for the poor and the destitute was available at the workhouse.

Activities for young children include rat spotting around the museum and listening to a specially recorded short story about Ranulphe Ratkins and his Nantwich family of rats!

Children can colour in a rat for the nest on the wall in the museum and be rewarded with a museum rat badge!

There is also a downloadable guide for a family walk around the town with Ronnie Ratkins.

The exhibition has been prepared by members of the Museum’s Research, Education and Craft Groups and curated by Dr Janette Allotey.

A series of evening online talks beginning in September include one on early medicine and surgery, presented by a suitably attired practitioner, and an explosive talk on the services provided by apothecaries.

There is also a talk on local patent medicine manufacturing by the Blackden Trust, plus 17th century midwifery and tales from Chester Asylum.

Museum Manager Kate Dobson said: “Work on the exhibition began two years ago and it is a testament to the enthusiasm and dedication of volunteers who have worked under the most difficult conditions to have assembled such a wide-ranging and fascinating display with something of interest to everyone.”

The Museum on Pillory Street returns to normal opening hours from Tuesday 27 July, which is 10.30am to 4.30pm Tuesdays to Saturdays.

Entrance to the museum and exhibition is free.

For further information contact: Nantwich Museum on [email protected] or telephone 01270 627104.

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