By Jenny Gibson

Herbal potions, balms and infusions are the focus of the Colne Valley Museum’s latest exhibition.

The natural remedies display put together by craft teacher Debbie Ball and museum trustee Jane Bickerton, delves into cures and treatments past and present – and offers tips on foraging and preparation of medicinal plants and herbs.

It takes inspiration from the museum’s own flourishing croft garden, which was established with seed money from the WOVEN festival in Kirklees, and features dye plants as well as those used in remedies.

On show alongside fresh herbs to handle are pots, bowls, utensils and other curios from the museum’s own collection – essential tools for chopping, mixing, steeping and simmering.

Debbie researched plants that grow locally and how they can be used to help ailments such as aching joints, itchy rashes, coughs and colds. She said: “Some form the base of medicines in use today, but others have fortunately been left well in the past.

“For example, some people thought blowing tobacco smoke into an aching ear could cure it, or that lying down to allow chickens to run over you would clear up chickenpox.”



Debbie added: “Medicine developed in different ways. In the countryside, away from big towns and cities, there was no easy access to doctors or pharmacists. People would visit a wise woman, perhaps the local midwife, for advice on illness and injury.

“The wise woman would make remedies from what she could find – plants, animals and minerals like salt. Remedies were passed down, and often included magic, charms and spells, as well as treatments that stand up to today’s scientific understanding.”

The natural remedies exhibition continues until the end of June. The museum is open 12pm to 4pm Saturdays and Sundays. Entry for adults is £5, and children go free.


What’s on in Huddersfield in June 2024 with Michael Ball, comic con, Kirklees Pride and a solstice walk