Visit the garden at Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant
Every Tudor house would have had a small piece of land that would have been used as the house garden, providing food crops, medicinal herbs, strewing herbs and dyeing plants to keep the household fed and healthy all year round. Visit the Tudor garden at Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant and step back in time.
Explore a Tudor garden
If you became ill in Tudor times, your first port of call would be the garden. Medicinal herbs were administered externally or internally, in a variety of forms and often with other herbs in carefully measured amounts.
Tudor medicine cabinet
Some of remedies have been found by modern science to be effective, while others appeared to have worked but probably the patient recovered despite the use of the herb. Some were highly poisonous and their use may have led to many deaths.
Herbs for carpets
Tŷ Mawr would have been a very busy farmstead. The main living room would have had a mixture of smells from the smoking fire, cooking and animals.
Before the main stone floor was installed, Tŷ Mawr would probably have had a beaten earth floor painted in casein, which comes from milk, and is rather pungent when wet.
People covered the floors with rushes or reeds or woven mats. These were strewn with sweet smelling herbs such as lavender, marjoram, tansy, meadowsweet and rue. The process of covering the mats with herbs helped to disguise the smell and also control fleas and bacteria.
Dyeing herbs were used to colour fabrics. Alkanet (Anchusa officinalis) roots produce a red dye, the seed pods of woad (Isatis tinctoria) yield a blue dye and Dyer’s weld (Reseda luteola) provided a yellow dye. These could be mixed for variations of colour.
Culinary herbs were grown for flavouring sauces and meat and included borage, sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley and chives.
High protein diets with bread were eaten by richer people. Vegetables were a common food for those who were less well off. Vegetables were much cheaper to buy and easier to grow.
A thick soup
Vegetables were not normally served with meat on the same plate. Vegetables were often used in a thick soup called a pottage. The pottage recipe consisted of peas, milk, egg yolks, breadcrumbs. Additional flavours could come from parsley, saffron and ginger.
Vegetables also played a role in herbal medicine. The Tudors believed that turnips were a remedy for coughs. Pungent onions could be used to help cure the bite of a mad dog. There are many remedies for this condition probably due to a large number of dogs possibly infected with rabies.
The folklore Physicians of Myddfai rated the medicinal properties of the leek highly. They devoted a section to the ‘Manifold virtues of the leek’ which include treatments for headaches, deafness, ulcers, boils, flatulence and as an aid for women who want children.
Explore the birthplace of Bishop William Morgan the translator of the Bible into Welsh. Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant sits in a quiet hidden valley on the edge of Penmachno near Betws y Coed.