A Norwich woman has been retelling her late grandparent’s tales of folk cures and beliefs. 

Norfolk Heritage Centre volunteer, Poppy Jones, has always been interested in family history and Norfolk folklore. 

Her grandparents, Gordon and Mary Lake were born and raised in North Norfolk and lived around the areas of Hindolveston, Binham, Hindringham and Thursford, where they were pig farmers.

Eastern Daily Press: Mary Lake and her husband were farmersMary Lake and her husband were farmers (Image: Poppy Jones)

Her grandfather recalled all sorts of unusual-sounding remedies that he had heard or experienced as a child. 

An aunt once suggested eating a mouse to cure whooping cough. Other remedies included the secretions of a toad to cure acne and spit to treat moles.

He also said that keeping the bone of a toad in your pocket would help when training a dog.

Poppy got the opportunity to dig into the archives for the Heritage Centre’s recent Fantasy exhibition which she wrote about in a blog post.

Amazingly, she was able to find very similar references to what her grandparents had told her. 

One record spoke of East Anglian ‘toad magic’, and detailed the use of toad bones in training horses.

The 1974 book, The Folklore of East Anglia, described how a mother’s spittle could help remove birthmarks, and confirmed that many locals remembered being given a fried or roasted mouse to cure whooping cough.

Eastern Daily Press: Poppy Jones is a volunteer researcher at the Norfolk Heritage CentrePoppy Jones is a volunteer researcher at the Norfolk Heritage Centre (Image: Poppy Jones)

Poppy said: “I was seeing all these links back to things that I’d heard mentioned and I was sending my family photos of the pages saying ‘Look, it’s actually a thing, it’s mentioned in this book!

“It is quite amazing to think that Grandad’s quirky stories, shared with me over the kitchen table, actually originate in ancient pagan beliefs and rituals. They have been passed down from generation to generation, shared over kitchen tables just like ours, for thousands of years.”