John Gerard was a celebrated herbalist who was born in Nantwich in 1545 and learned about plants in the fields and by-ways of Nantwich. He later moved to London, and became herbalist to King James I. He is famous because he authored The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes, which became the authoritative book that students and botanists used for 200-300 years.
In his Herball, John Gerard refers to the medicinal experiments of ‘a worshipful gentlewoman, Mistress Anne Wylbraham’, an aunt of Thomas Wilbraham who developed the walled garden at Townsend House. She is described as having practised an experimental cure for the ague, using the root of the water dock, ‘upon divers of her poore neighbours with good successe’.
Gerard shared interests with Sir Walter Raleigh (also a botanical collector), and William Shakespeare’s interest in folklore. Gerard’s Herball is known to have inspired some of William Morris’s floral designs. If the garden and walls can be restored, our plan would be for it to be a tribute to John Gerard so that his contributions to botany and herbs, and his connections with Nantwich, can be commemorated.
John Gerard and Shakespeare
The possible connection between Gerard and Shakespeare was featured in the May 2015 edition of Country Life
More information can also be found here.
John Gerard bibliography
Our archivist has created a bibliography of books, journal articles and papers concerned with John Gerard: John Gerard bibliography