Innes Lecture 2022 – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

The Innes Lecture 2022 will be given by Dr Joy Hawkins on Thursday 15 September. The public lecture, a Heritage Open Day event, will be held in person at the John Innes Conference Centre, or you can attend virtually as the event will be streamed live.


Discover the history of herbal remedies for problems with the eyes. Who used them, what for and why.

Many aspects of life in medieval and early modern England, including diet, work or home environments, accidents or disease could cause an eye complaint. It was also believed that problems with the sight could be an indication of divine punishment for sin. Whatever the cause, there was usually a practical solution available to treat the ailment.

The proliferation of remedies for eye conditions in medical manuscripts suggests that our ancestors were particularly concerned with ocular health and sight was regarded as a precious commodity.

Drawing on a range of herbals, including those from the John Innes Centre’s Rare Book collection, this talk will explore some of the plant-based treatments suggested for eye complaints. We will also consider who used them, the longevity of the ideas and treatments, and why some ingredients proved particularly popular.

Speaker Dr Joy Hawkins biography

Dr Joy Hawkins is a Lecturer in the Interdisciplinary Institute for the Humanities at the University of East Anglia. She teaches on the Foundation Year programme and the MA in Gender Studies.

As a medical historian, her research focuses on ailments, injuries and bodily fluids in the later Middle Ages, as well as the interactions between patients and practitioners. Dr Hawkins has published on the relationship between sight loss and sanctity as well as the interconnection between medicine, religion and gender in medieval England.

Event Summary

  • Title – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme: Discover the history of herbal remedies for problems with the eyes. Who used them, what for and why.
  • Speaker – Dr Joy Hawkins, University of East Anglia
  • Venue – John Innes Conference Centre, Colney Lane, Norwich, NR4 7UH
  • Streamed live (this lecture will not be recorded)
  • Date and Time – 15 September 2022. Join us for tea and biscuits from 18.00. Lecture begins at 18.30

Register, free-of-charge, for your place at the 2022 Innes Lecture – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme by Joy Hawkins 

Find out more about the Heritage Open Days.

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