Busy life of the executioner... TheDailyPreview GRUESOME TUDORS KENILWORTH CASTLE.
They will be revealing the gory side of medieval life from medicine to crime and punishment all this week with Tudor executioner Gilbert Savage, alias historic re-enactor John White, topping the bill.
Dressed in black, and with his executioner's axe ever ready, Gilbert will relate the grisly nature of his employment - not only executing criminals but flogging, branding and removing the ears of the living, as well as drawing and quartering the recently deceased.
"An executioner was kept exceptionally busy during the Tudor period, not only for actually the ending of criminal life, but also the maiming and other corporal punishments that were doled out for even the most minor crimes," says John.
"In fact, sometimes it was members of the public that delivered some of the worst punishments. The idea of just rotten fruit and veg being thrown at people in the stocks really depended on how unpopular the 'criminal' was.
"When the public agreed with the activity - such as speaking out against authorities - the criminal might be left unharmed, but an unpopular soul could be pelted with rotting animal carcasses, stones or even bricks.
"It is not unknown for people to die in the stocks - a severe punishment for something as minor as theft of an item valued at less than a shilling."
Medieval medical techniques were also barbaric by modern standards and visitors can hear from the Tudor Travellers about the role of the Tudor surgeons and wise women in maintaining the health of the nation.
"In Tudor times, medicine comprised a blend of genuine herbal remedies, nonsensical beliefs and often, quite brutal surgery," says English Heritage's regional events manager, Tom Course.
"For example, a treatment for an eye infection might involve blowing powdered white dog poo into the eye, which almost certainly would not offer a cure, but would guarantee a repeat visit - and healthy profits for less scrupulous medical practitioners.
"Indeed, other 'cures' included the swallowing of live snails to deal with phlegm on the chest, as it was thought that the slimy creatures would eat the phlegm, thus curing the ailment. Live frogs were also swallowed as a treatment for a sore throat - hence the phrase 'frog in the throat.'" The gruesome stories will be told each day this week from 11am to 5pm.
For more information on Time Travellers Go... Gruesome contact 01926 852078 or visit www.englishheritage.
org.uk/kenilworth Marion McMullen
HEAD MASTER: The executioner at Kenilworth Castle