ADvent Calendar Day 9ADvent Calendar Day 9

Smedley’s Chillie Paste was for topical application only, but if you should be tempted to swallow a spoonful of this capsicum-based rub, you would probably be able to cure yourself of a head cold… or of owning a head altogether.

According to adverts from the 1870s, the Paste was invented by John Smedley of Matlock, Derbyshire, a successful textiles manufacturer who opened a hydropathic establishment in 1853. After his death in 1874, the remedy was advertised by Hirst, Brooke and Hirst of Leeds. This magazine insert, courtesy of Wellcome Images, dates from Edward VII’s accession in 1901.

Smedley's Chillie Paste

Smedley’s book, Practical Hydropathy, showing his complex system of numbered treatments (many of which include the application of chillie paste), has been digitised here. And should you be in need of any luxurious knitwear this Christmas, John Smedley Ltd – still operating from Lea Mills in Matlock – offers an extensive range.

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