The Herb Garret

Take the Panoramic Tour of the Garret

I do remember an apothecary …
And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
An alligator stuff’d and other skins
Of ill-shaped fishes; and about his shelves

A beggarly account of empty boxes,
Green earthen pots, bladders, and musty seeds,
Remnants of packthread
and old cakes of roses,
Were thinly scatter’d
to make up a show. “

William Shakespeare from Romeo and Juliet


When St Thomas’s Church was rebuilt in 1703 it had an unusually large Garret in the roof space. This was used by the St Thomas’s Apothecary to store and cure herbs. His main offices and shop were a short distance away along St Thomas’s St.

When the Museum was being restored, 4 poppies were found in the rafters. Poppies are used to prepare opium which was a very important medicinal plant.

Storage areas in the hospital were available in basements and attics. For herbs, attics were preferable, we assume because they were less vunerable to rats. In addition, the massive timbers of the Garret stabilise the environment, absorbing excess moisture.

Apart from the poppies we have no direct evidence of what was stored here but the archives contain various references to the use of herbs and so we have an idea of what would have been used.

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