Market Lavington Museum

Cough mixture

In the run up to Christmas 2021, during this time of the Covid 19 pandemic and concerns about the rapidly increasing numbers of cases of the new Omicron variant, we do hope that our readers are safe and well.

For those of us who do succumb to coughs and colds, we mostly buy remedies from the pharmacy or take prescription medication from a doctor. Some folk might ease their cough symptoms with lemon and honey, but few of us would be making our own cough medicines. However, the late Victorian and early 20th century recipes in Annie Earle/Welch’s book include instructions for making a cough mixture.

Once again, we do not recognise all the ingredients and some of them are not considered safe for medicinal use nowadays. Syrup of squill was made from the bulbs of the squill plant. We do not know how much of it was bought for an old penny at the time the recipe was copied down. A pennyworth of syrup of poppies was also required. These were added to ipecachuana wine, which was made from the roots of a Brazilian shrub. Dill water was also part of the mix. This is still used in baby’s gripe water.

This is one of the recipes that was accredited to the donor in Annie’s book. It came from someone called S Hughes.