You can learn about natural remedies, in our six period gardens at the Museum, including one in our Bayleaf Tudor Farmstead. The Gardens Team have recently been working hard maintaining the herb gardens and repairing the hazel hurdle fencing. The fence is not to keep animals out, but more to maintain and retain the herbs in their bedding areas.
In this particular bed they grow Tansy, which is a traditional strewing herb, having a natural insecticide in its leaves it would be strewn on floors and under mattresses to deter insects.
The stems would have been collected in the summer and dried, so they were available to use around the home to prevent diseases spreading. The dried leaves and flowers can also be added to moth-repellent sachets, or simply sprinkled on windowsills to keep flies away.
Tansy also has a historical use as a medicine for parasites and worms: in medicinal terms, it is an ‘anthelmintic’. A strong infusion of the leaves was drunk to flush out internal parasites, or used as a wash to ward off external parasites.
The juice and chopped leaves of the plants were also traditionally mixed with eggs to make tansy cakes to eat at Easter, to flush out all the parasites supposedly picked up during Lent.
However, the tansy plant is toxic to eat if you do not know how to prepare it, so we do not recommend trying this at home.