In 1666 London, including the Royal College of Physicians, was devastated by fire. From September 2016 a new RCP exhibition explores the fire, its consequences and medical treatments for its effects.
Injuries from burns were common at this time, particularly in the home where timber-framed houses, open fires and candles proved a lethal combination. At least 20 major disasters in which more than 100 houses were destroyed occurred in English towns throughout the 17th century. Even in the royal palace at Whitehall fires broke out frequently; one night in 1662 a gale caused the palace to catch fire four times in a single night.
Naked flames were commonly used around the home: often put beneath shelves to shelter from draughts, clothes were hung next to open fire places, and candles were left burning next to the bed. It was essential, therefore, that households had remedies to hand for treating burns when the inevitable happened.
Against a Burne or Scald. First to fetch out the fire, apply the juice of the dung of a horse at grasse. Then to heale it, boyle the juice of Gill-goe-by-ground, called Ale hoofe in creane till it comes to an oile, and apply it till it bee whole.