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Herbal Magic: Local links

Resources old and new relating to herbs and medicinal plants

William Turner

William Turner (1508-1568) was born in Morpeth, Northumberland, and was known as the Father of English Botany for being the first person to classify plants in England in a systematic way. He disseminated this new system of classification through his book, A New Herball, which was first published in 1551. In Special Collections we have a 1568 edition, Part 3 of which was newly published with that edition, alongside the earlier Parts 1 and 2, which were published in 1551 and 1562 respectively; therefore our edition is a 1st edition of the herbal in its complete form. Turner’s Herbal was a massive book, containing plant descriptions with many high-quality woodcut illustrations, and his detailed descriptions are accompanied by English names, making it a major landmark in the development of English botany. Despite using a systematic method of classification, however, it was still primarily a physician's guide to herbs. William Turner is recognized as an important figure nationally as well as locally. 

Turner in Morpeth

A local interest group in Morpeth is conducting extensive research into William Turner.  Dr Marie Addyman is completing a full-length study of his work,  lectures on him at national conferences on the history of herbal medicine, and has contributed chapters to him in various current and forthcoming volumes. You can contact her at 

The group also produce an online journal, Quadrifolia which advertises Turner related events. Contact Brian Harle (  to be added to their mailing list.

You can also visit the Turner Garden in Carlisle Park, Morpeth . 

Dilston Physic Garden

Dilston Physic Garden contains over 800 living medicinal plants. A Physic Garden is a garden where plants with medicinal properties are grown. Originally, hundreds of year ago, physic gardens were for practicing physicians (doctors) to grow the plants for the medicines they prepared, based on knowledge handed down for generations, which they prescribed for their patients. 

This contemporary physic garden is a charity inspired by Professor Emeritus Elaine Perry, a neuroscientist at the University of Newcastle who directs research into plant medicines. Each plant is labelled, explaining their health benefits. Newcastle students visit Dilston as part of the MSc in Medicinal Plants and Functional Foods