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British Society for the History of Pharmacy

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Our events programme covers a wide range of pharmacy history topics.  We hold 3 evening meetings each year, and annual conference, a summer visit, and a joint meeting with a School of Pharmacy.  Click on an event below to find out more.
UCL School of Pharmacy, 29-39 Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1AX
Monday 13th May 201917.30
Cost: Free

May 13th Professor Clare Fowler (University College, London) will speak on “Pharmacopoeia Londinensis 1618 and its descendants”.

Everyone welcome, no booking required, no admission fee. Refreshments from 17:00. Lecture 17.30-18.30


Lecture Abstract

In 1618, for a number of compelling reasons, the College of Physicians published their first pharmacopoeia, the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis (PL).  This was a landmark publication, being the first standard list of medicines and their ingredients in England. Chief amongst the reasons which lead to the publication in 1618 was that in the previous year the Apothecaries had finally secured their separation from the Company of Merchant Grocers and it was according to the physicians’ ‘Antidotary’, that all apothecaries throughout the realm of King James were to manufacture authorized preparations which the physicians would prescribe. However the origins of the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis within the College were not straightforward and there were clearly rival factions at work, such that 10 months later the first version was replaced by a second, enlarged and grander volume.

An important consequence of the publication of Pharmacopoeia Londinensis was its eventual evolution into the British Pharmacopoeia. Another important direct ‘descendant’ of the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis was Nicholas Culpeper’s 1649 translation of it into English. This and related works by Culpeper were thereafter greatly valued by ‘common man’ as sources of information about the medicinal attributes of plants and their place in the treatment of disease.

Finally the 1618 Pharmacopoeia Londinensis provided the inspiration for the PL gardens which now flourish in the grounds of the Royal College of Physicians’ London home in Regent’s Park.


Speaker Biography

Professor Clare Fowler was Consultant in Uro-Neurology at the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, UCLH from 1985-2012 and is now Emeritus Professor of Uro-Neurology at Institute of Neurology, UCL. 

I contributed more than 200 original research articles to peer reviewed journals on various aspects of pelvic organ dysfunction in neurological disease and established a new specialism of Uro-Neurology.  In recognition of services to Uro-Neurology, I was honoured to receive the CBE in 2012.

Soon after that I retired from medicine and spent several happy years at Merrist Wood working to obtain the RHS Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture. Gardening had become something of a passion and together with my husband we open our large garden in Surrey for the ngs each summer. It was an interest in the gardens surrounding the RCP’s London home at Regent’s Park that led me to research and write the ‘Pharmacopoeia Londinensis 1618 and its descendants’.

In September 2015 I started the 3 year training to become a Anglican Lay Minister and am now studying for a BA in Theology at Durham University. 

Since retiring from medicine I have played the French horn in a wind band and put much effort into trying to become a better bell ringer.



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