Courses at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum. Singleton. West Sussex. To book - Email

Seeds of Good Health.

Friday 28th April 2017



The seed contains the potential of the whole plant. Some herbalists believe that the potency of new life in seeds makes them the most valuable plant part to be given in medicine. Seeds may be chewed whole, ground into powder, decocted for medicinal drinks, or applied to the body in ointments. Most commonly in the past linseed was used in applied plasters. We will examine the benefits of seeds both familiar and unusual, as they have been used over the centuries. We will also try out some live medicine with tasty, vitamin and mineral rich freshly sprouted seeds. Fennel, coriander, caraway, psyllium, alfalfa, red clover, lentil, sunflower, sesame and fenugreek are some you will meet on the day.

Herbs in the Home: your uses. Basic methods.

Friday 26th May.



A day either for the beginner who wishes to know how to introduce herbs into their daily life effectively: or for those who have attended historical herb courses previously and would like a deeper focus on methods. It will cover herbs in cookery, home medicine, making fragrances and wines and liqueurs. We will also look at how the role of herbs has changed to meet new needs with changes in lifestyle over the centuries. The emphasis will be on those areas of particular interest to participants and questions to be addressed can be emailed to Christina up to two weeks before the course date,

Herbs, Humours and Astrology.

Friday 27th  May.



We will be looking at the nature of herbs in the historical context of the humoral system of medicine and the possible influence of the planets on herb growth and efficacy. It may seem quirky to us in this century but a simple look at herb actions within the body can help us to understand the historical viewpoint. Examining how herbs are classified with relation to planets is fascinating and can become complex if the ancient astrological medicine is seriously followed. This is a light yet informative day which can aid interpretation of historical recipes and give food for thought on your personal humoral balance. Are you overly Choleric? Sanguine? Melancholic? or Phlegmatic?

Woodland Herbs.

Sunday 28th May.



A walk in wild woodland reveals not only herbs in the undergrowth but also herbal trees. This day will equip you not only to find first aid by the wayside, but also to gather ingredients for pleasant, health-giving teas. Along the way we can also identify powerful herbs now grown as flowers and important medicinal herbs being researched and recently used for example in cancer treatments. Herbs covered will include Hawthorn, Elder, Yew,  Ajuga, Sanicle, Hedge Woundwort, Wild raspberry and Strawberry, Violets, Ivy, Herb Robert, Bilberry, Butcher’s broom, Cowslips, Lily of the Valley and Solomon’s Seal.  Medicinal and cookery recipes will be part of the day.

Herbs for Health.

Friday 4th August.

9.30 – 4.30pm.


The origins of the herbaceous border lie in growing herbs for home remedies in the past. Led by a medical herbalist, the course offers guidance on the most safe and useful herbs to grow and how to harvest and use or preserve them., A practical day ensures careful identification, instruction on the individual herbs and experience in making a footbath, herbal honey syrup, herbal teas, an infused oil, a herb pillow and more.

Applications for bites and stings, bruises and irritated skin are taken from a selection of historical and modern recipes covering everyday problems from sore throats to diarrhoea. This will be a day illustrating effective traditional use of herbs. Some herbs featured: marshmallow, fennel, elder, chamomile, lemon balm, thyme, sage, pot marigold, chickweed, houseleek, ribwort plantain, lavender...

Waterside Herbs

 Saturday 5th August.



A guide to the herbs found growing on the banks of rivers, around lakes and by canals, this day opens our eyes to new herbs rarely encountered on other sites in the wildSome from river estuaries, even at the seashore, may be surprises. Knowledge of the preferred habitat of certain garden herbs will aid in understanding their needs. . You may be inspired to take more walks by the water.  The more predictable wild angelica, meadowsweet, willow and comfrey will be joined by watercress, butterbur, gypsywort, yellow flag, sweet gale, our native skullcap, mimulus, harts- tongue fern, royal fern, brooklime, sweet flag and more.

Arabic Influence: Exotics and Pharmacy.

Sunday 6th August.

9.30am – 4.30pm.


As the habitat of the precious spices and aromatic gums such as myrrh, olibanum, and cinnamon Arabia supplied these for western medicine. However the extent of the Arabic influence on medical training and in particular the practice of the apothecary was so much greater than sourcing drugs. We will be looking at contacts with the East from the pilgrimage of Alfred the Great to Jerusalem and his receiving a prescription from the Patriarch there, travels and translations of Arabic texts by Adelard of Bath, and Crusaders eating oranges at Jaffa. The fusion of Arabic, Greek and Roman medicine at the teaching hospital in Salerno where returning Crusaders were treated, ensured  the use of nutmegs, cloves, ginger, tamarinds, senna, rhubarb, saffron, liquorice, and  distilled rose water in the west. A day for the art of the apothecary to come to the fore with the works of Avicenna, Mesue and Rhazes giving us exciting recipes to make.

Anglo-Saxon Medicine.

Friday 26th August.

9.30am – 4.30pm.


A day in the Museum’s newly erected “Anglo-Saxon” building in a woodland setting. The Anglo-Saxons had names for nearly 400 different herbs. Many we are familiar with in our daily life today, others less so. Through some recipes with many ingredients, others requiring charms or prayers, a few involving diet, we will be exploring the Anglo-Saxon views on health, sickness and treating a variety of ailments. Special emphasis will be given to prominent herbs of the period such as mugwort, waybroad [ greater plantain], garclive [agrimony], ashthroat [vervain], betony and elf dock [elecampane]. Through gathering herbs, making a salve, pottage to eat, herbal drinks, a cough remedy and applications we will work towards an understanding of recipes from the Leechbooks of the period.

Kill or Cure: the Umbelliferae family.

Sunday 27th August.



It is easy to pick out members of Umbelliferae from their typical umbelliferous flowerheads. But could you tell a wild parsnip from  masterwort, or wild carrot from fine-leaved water-dropwort? Is cow parsley safe or useful at all? If you have ever looked at such a plant in the hedgerow and wondered if it is safe or poisonous, this is a day not to miss. For the answers we will be looking at samples of the plants and their seeds and learning about them. This interesting family is wide-ranging from well known poisons, such as hemlock, to lesser known cures like sanicle and familiar foods with cumin and fennel. A day to bring a camera for a lasting record. Recipes made will of course be limited to the foods!

At Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Richmond. London.           

Planning and Tending the Herb Garden.

 Saturday  1st July 2017.

This will be a day of introduction for those who might wish to have their own herb garden. It will give the opportunity to consider the practicality of what might work in your own space from both the point of view of design and harvesting. Examples of growing herbs which are both decorative and useful either in small urban settings or larger country gardens, will offer inspiration for planting schemes exploring use of colours, forms, foliage textures and perfumes to gain the best effect. The medieval ideals of beauty, usefulness and pleasing aromas in the garden will inform us on choices to be made.

Whether your aim is a wildflower garden having a natural appearance, an ordered serenity with a knot or a selection of potted herbs to brighten and transform a balcony or patio, there will be something for everyone. Getting to know the herbs involved will be through slides, herbarium samples and an all-important walk in Kew gardens to see the plants growing and literally smell the roses. Main uses of all herbs mentioned will be given. Pencil and drawing paper is not obligatory but you may wish to make sketches of ideas on the day for later. More detailed uses of the herbs may be further explored on a second day.  

Herbs in the Home: A Practical Approach.

Sunday 2nd July.

A well planned herb garden may offer harvests throughout the year for seasoning and preserving in the kitchen, making home remedies for everyday complaints or adding fragrance and elegance to the home. Over the centuries herb use has varied as lifestyle has changed and we will be looking at recipes tailored for our busy lives today. Herbs have always been used to add to the quality of life, whether in flavours, fragrances or with their healing and antiseptic properties. In the increasingly synthetic and virtual reality world in which we live, contact with nature can be therapeutic and healing in itself.

Today will be a guide to changing the emphasis to one of learning to add simple natural touches with herbs in the home. This will be illustrated and learned with hands on experience of recipes. Some will be fragrant, some tasty and others safe plant medicine. Led by a medical herbalist, the course will offer guidance on basic methods and ensure participants know the benefits and cautions of gathering and use. An informative day with time also for a short walk to see the plants growing at Kew.

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