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The Apothecary's Den

  • First entered:

  • Cost of shedbuild:

    More than £1000


The Apothecary's Den is all about the stained glass windows. They were designed and hand made by me over a 5 year period and they depict the relationship between our health and the natural world. As a community pharmacist for the last 30 years, these are my two passions. There are 10 plants featured which have been used as medicines in some way or other through history up to present day, along with some of our most precious native wildlife. I think it is important to look after our natural world, so it can look after us.

It is a small space, just enough room for two and is just used for relaxing. There is power, so it can be used all year round. Inside there are hand made tented drapes and a handmade tiffany technique lampshade featuring moths.

For the full story behind the windows, the details of the medicinal plants featured and how the windows were designed and built, go to Instagram @theapothecarysden

Other info

The stained glass windows have been made using glass and lead came, then cemented to be weatherproof. They have all been designed and hand made by me.

The building was originally bought from the local shed supplier from the bargain basement - it was unloved, bright blue and in a corner with a broken window. It has been renovated; repainted, floor stained and, of course, re-glazed.

There are six windows:

Willow window - featuring a willow tree and a willow tit, a bird in serious decline. Willow, particularly the bark, gives us aspirin.

Gothic window - this is designed around nocturnal mammals, a badger and a bat (against the moon) and features papaver somniferum (poppy) which gives us morphine. Morphine is named after Morpheus, a god of dreams.

Snowdrop window - snowdrops, or galanthus, contain galantamine. In Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus used a snowdrop type remedy to help clear his mind of Circe's bewitchment. Galantamine is used today for dementia.

The Door - features echinacea flowers, a traditional herbal remedy and atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade) in which we find atropine, used to dilate the pupils and a powerful toxin in overdose.

The Heartstopper window - features a foxglove, a gorgeous fox and another powerful toxin. Foxgloves contain the cardiac glycoside digoxin, which alters the beating of the heart. The other plant featured on this window may also cause your heart to stop (any guesses?) and its leaves snake through all the upper windows to tie them together as a set.

The Chamomile window - features three medicinal compounds. Chamomile is used in traditional remedies for soothing. The fly agaric 'toadstool' amanita muscaria is a source of muscarine, the antidote to atropine, and used in its own right for glaucoma and other conditions. Finally, there is ergot, which grows on infected rye. Ergotism caused by eating the grain or flour from infected rye leads to the often fatal condition St Anthony's fire. In more recent times, ergotamine has been used with success for migraine headache in closely controlled doses.

The lampshade features four of my favourite moths - Elephant hawk moth, brimstone, herald and large yellow underwing. These moths would use the plants featured as food sources and, naturally, would gather round the light.

Find out more about the designs and the build on Instagram @theapothecarysden

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