Market Lavington Museum

Hop bitters

Another recipe typed into the 1953 Market Lavington and Easterton Women’s Institute history file is for Hop Bitters. This one is from the recipe book of Annie Earle, who married Jack Welch. They were the grandparents of our museum founder, Peggy Gye and, by the time little Jack (Peggy’s father) was born, they had moved from London to Spring Villa in Market Lavington.

Hop bitters were used to aid digestion and hops were known as a sedative. Annie’s recipe required half and ounce of hop leaves and 2 drams of buchn leaves. We imagine this was a mistype of buchu leaves, which were used as a herbal remedy and for flavouring. The recipe also says you need a pennyworth of mandrake, but to use only half of this. Mandrake roots, according to Wikipedia, had many medicinal qualities and could be used ‘for treating stomach ulcers, colic, constipation, asthma, hay fever, convulsions, arthritis-like pain (rheumatism), and whooping cough. It is also used to trigger vomiting, cause sleepiness (sedation), reduce pain, and increase interest in sexual activity.’

All these ingredients, together with half a dram of dandelion extract, were put into a pint of boiling water and left to stand by the fire for four hours.