From tasting sick and diarrhoea to removing arrowheads and chopping off limbs, the job of a medieval barber surgeon was a gruesome pastime.
The exploits of this merciless yet well-intentioned character from the Middle Ages, who combined hair cuts with brutal surgery, will be on show at Wellingborough’s Medieval Festival, which takes place on Saturday, July 26, and Sunday, July 27.
The free family event takes place throughout the town centre and in Croyland Gardens, with a host of acts and activities lined up, including sword training, archery, stocks, ferret racing, falconry, a display of medieval food and short concerts will also be staged.
Owain Leech, the ‘Medieval Barber Surgeon’ is the latest addition to the weekend, which is being organised by the Wellingborough Business Improvement District (BID), a team tasked with encouraging trade in the town centre.
Wellingborough-based Medieval expert and event organiser David Smith said: “You have to remember, there were no laboratories to send off samples of blood tests or urine tests.
“The barber surgeon had to rely on the patient’s description of the problem and whatever they could ‘produce’ to demonstrate what was wrong.
“This could be, in the case of food poisoning or some other sort of stomach upset, the patient’s vomit.
“And it could be even worse – the patient might have diarrhoea.
“He was also the only person you could go to if you were injured, or wounded in battle – and there wasn’t any effective painkilling drugs.
“He was also the dentist – and this was extremely unpleasant because of the prevalent beliefs in those days as to the causes of toothache.”
Owain Leech will be at the lawn by the Tithe Barn at 11.30am and 1.30pm on the Saturday and at 10.30am and 12.30pm on the Sunday.
BID manager John Cable said: “As well as providing plenty of family entertainment, the Wellingborough Medieval Festival is a fantastic excuse to showcase our great town centre, which includes a wealth of independent traders, parkland, historic buildings and free parking.”