Newton era Masterclasses

A series of free activities and talks focused on the heritage of Sir Isaac Newton and his contemporaries with experts in historic gardening, food, history and 17th century medicine.

LASD Peter Elmer

At Belton Village Hall 17th century potions...

Apothecaries in Newton's day were mainly unregulated, fascinated by new minerals, new drugs, and spices from The Indies and America, setting great store by the bile and phlegm systems and using blood letting (phlebotomy) as standard practice.

Isaac Newton was a notorious self medicator and hypochondriac, confirmed speaker Dr Peter Elmer, at the forefront of a unique project documenting medical practitioners in early modern Britain. It was a time of general experimentation where apothecaries led the way and Newton's own Grantham landlord William Clarke prospered while keeping on the 'right side' of the Civil War, one of 39 apothecaries practising in Lincolnshire.

Historic gardener Mike Brown, described a time when the garden was the mainstay of not only food but a wide range of herbs relied on in every day life.

...in the garden

Lincolnshire mandrake that reputedly killed all who heard it 'scream', a herb that served as soap and herbs as cosmetics for the wealthy - all came from the 17th century garden. Historic gardener Mike Brown, an impressive figure in flowing garb and wide brimmed hat, described a time when the garden was the mainstay of not only food but a wide range of herbs relied on in every day life and which Newton used in his own potions and remedies.

Soapwort leaves and roots produced a lather in water and were used for washing. And the mandrake, or white brony, held the most fear, allegedly screaming when it was dug up and killing anyone who heard it.

Garden tour also organised for Doddington Hall near Lincoln. Plus guided tour of The Royal College of Physicians gardens in London with their 1,300 medicinal plants.

Cooks needed support for their 17th century labours, usually a pair of hefty stays, according to food historian Dr Annie Gray.

... and in the kitchen

Cooks needed support for their 17th century labours, usually a pair of hefty stays, according to food historian Dr Annie Gray. Facing a 20 hour shift, the sheer physicality of working in a kitchen of Newton's day is often forgotten, advising that tracing the story of kitchens and food was the best possible way to study history. And it was a dangerous work, with cooks dying from the carbon dioxide given off by charcoal.

It was a time influenced by the reign of Louis 14th, a British passion for all things French, plentiful butter and cream in cooking, and the first time women came into their own in the kitchen. And never call a banquet serving maid a wench, she advised: this was the old term for a prostitute.

Spalding Gentleman's Society

Spalding Gentlemen's Society

A group of 20 people joined a tour of The Spalding Gentlemen's Society, one of the oldest learned societies in the UK and boasting Sir Isaac Newton amongst its members. The society was born from informal meetings of a few local gentlemen at a coffee-house in Spalding's Abbey Yard in 1710 to discuss local antiquities and read The Tatler, a newly published London periodical.

In 1712 its meetings progressed to a permanent footing as a Society of Gentlemen - 'for the supporting of mutual benevolence, and their improvement in the liberal sciences and in polite learning'. Curator Tom Grimes traced the society's history and showed off its superb collection of historical artefacts- and library.

Library

Lincolnshire's Archives: An Introduction

With a huge amount of archive relating to Newton's time, how best to approach researching the man and his era?

That question was resoundingly answered for a keen group of 30 keen historians and potential researchers with a January visit to the Lincolnshire Archives introduced by senior archivist Dr Mike Rogers.

Archivists Peter Ryde & Steve White explained Newton related material available and Dr John Manterfield, a specialist on the built environment in 17th Century Grantham advised how to get started researching communities,surviving buildings, families or events, where to source material, tracing parish and estate records.