The opportunity to view a wide range of medical equipment and rarely seen archival material at Nantwich Museum ends on Saturday 23 October when the “Ouch! A slightly horrible history of health and disease in Nantwich” exhibition ends.
Entry to the exhibition is free and it is open 10.30 am – 4.30 pm Tuesday – Saturday when visitors can view, amongst a wide range of other objects, the 1689 testimonials of Elin Hodgson and Sarah Weld. Loaned by Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, the documents are part of applications to the bishop for a license to practice midwifery. Eight people signed Elin’s testimonial and visitors can see their signatures or “markes”.
Other items of note are a page from a comprehensive medicines prescription book from the 1800s covering everything from medical treatments to furniture polish. Fleas and lice are associated with disease and those with a keen eye can view real specimens. Rats are also associated with disease and are prominent in the exhibition with a specially recorded story of imaginary character, Ranulphe Ratkins and his rat family along with several activities for children.
The exhibition takes visitors on a quirky whistle-stop journey into the town’s past considering some noteworthy people on the way. An inscribed silver salver can be seen, which was awarded to “Mr Williamson,” a surgeon, for his services to the neighbourhood during the 1849 cholera epidemic which killed 164 townspeople in five months. Many still remember Matron Duncalf, who presided over Nantwich Cottage Hospital for 19 years with what was described as a “super-efficient brusque” manner. A book on display provides an example of her lecture notes.
The comprehensive and well received exhibition prepared by the Museum’s Research Group under the direction of Dr Janette Allotey is due to be loaned in part to other organisations including The Riverside Museum, University of Chester and Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Chester’s Joint Education and Training Library based at Leighton Hospital, Crewe.