The University of Hertfordshire’s History department is running free foraging tours in their grounds this summer, giving history buffs and nature lovers alike an insight into the natural ingredients used in early modern medicine. 

The walking tours will take place at the University of Hertfordshire’s Bayfordbury site in July, revealing the ingredients commonly used by 17th century communities – which can still be found in our fields and woodlands today.  

Dr Jennifer Evans, senior lecturer in history at the University of Hertfordshire, and George Fredenham, who ran ‘The Foragers’ restaurant in St Albans for ten years, will lead the tours and explain how men and women in the 17th and 18th century produced so-called ‘kitchen physick’ remedies in their kitchens for everyday ailments like headaches and more serious conditions like gout.  

Dr Jennifer Evans said: “If you are fascinated by medicine in the past this is the event for you. You will be able to find out what people did to help themselves in an era when medical care could be very costly.” 

The tour will include a talk on early modern medical knowledge and recipes, and a foraging walk to seek out commonly used ingredients, including mallows, elderflowers and germander.

The walks will evoke the depth of 17th century people’s everyday botanical and medical knowledge, and will reveal how these same plants and substances are now being rediscovered and used in contemporary food and drink.

Participants will learn about the accessibility, but also the complexities, and dangers, of finding medicinal ingredients in the English countryside. 

The tours are taking place on July 3 and 4at Bayfordbury Campus, Hertfordshire.

Tickets are free but should be reserved in advance at