The pharmacy of the St. John’s hospital in Bruges
The pharmacy of the St. John’s hospital in Bruges founed in 1634 when the city magistrate decided to found a historic pharmacy in the former brother’s cloister. This hospital pharmacy remained in use until 1971. The furnishings date largely from the 17th and 18th centuries. All the furniture and recipients necessary to ensure the smooth running of the pharmacy are still to be found here.
The historic pharmacy, complete with dispensing-table, shelves containing pharmacists’ jars and other receptacles, mortars, plaster-chest, poison-chest and simplicia cabinet, has been fully preserved together with its own original atmosphere. In addition to this, many of the objects that belong to the interior have been preserved in situ.
Pharmacists’ pots in white glazed clay with blue label:
- bottles with wooden stopper: herbal liquids
- cylindrical pots with pewter lids: ointments, pills and extracts
- cylindrical containers with spouts: oil pots
- examples with foot, spot and wooden stopper: syrup pots.
Bearded jars: the bearded man jar was used for storing medicinal waters and wines.
Poison-chest: Used for storing poisonous substances.
Boxes and barrels: these were made of oak and have a drawer in the top and acajou imitation on which there is a gilded motif. Besides herbal medicines such as opium poppyheads and liquorice roots, they also contained gums and resins for making plasters with.
Herb-chest: 18th century, with various different drawers for storing herbs.
Herb box: these boxes were used for storing certain chemical substances.
Plaster cabinet: Cupboard used for storing valuable medicines, the so-called plasters or emplastra. A plaster had the same function as an ointment, but was preferable when medicine had to be applied to one particular spot over a longer period of time. The plasters were made up of ointments that were spread out on textile and rolled up and stored ready for use.
Simplicia cabinet: A sample of most of the ingredients, or simplicia, were stored here. These comprised herbs, resins, and minerals from which preparations such as composita were made.
Mortar: A mortar was used in the kitchen, as well as by craftsmen and pharmacists. The specimen in the pharmacy are made of bronze, marble and copper. They were used to ‘reduce’, or ‘grind’ and ‘pulverise’.
Memling in Sint-Jan Hospitaalmuseum Mariastraat 38 Brugge België
- Opening hours Pharmacy
Every day, exept on Monday, from 9:30 till 12:00 and from 14:00 till 17:00
8 euro (including the St – John's Hospital) Reduction 5 euro
Written by Evelien Vanden Berghe adjunct-conservator
See also this article in Norwegian.