The Norman collection of chemist's bottles


This collection (and other paraphernalia) takes up a whole case in the Local History gallery.

Valentine Norman came to Godalming in 1886 and took over Mr Barnes' chemist shop on the High Street.  In 1891 Mr and Mrs Norman had triplets, the only triplets known to have been born in Godalming in historical times: Kenneth Valentine; Beatrice Louise and Dorothy Hilda.  Kenneth served in the First World War and came home to work in the shop, which he took over in 1944.  Former Museum volunteer Bill Norman is Kenneth Norman's son and remembers the shop, including a little room on the first floor where his grandfather kept stock (you can find out more about the Norman family and see a picture of the triplets in the People's Gallery).

Now come forward in time to the 1990s – Norman's shop has long gone.  The shop next door is now another chemist, Moss (now the Godalming Pharmacy), and they buy Norman's old shop in order to extend their premises.  The stock room on the first floor has been sealed up but Moss break through the wall to find a time capsule of bottles, jars, potions, lotions and paperwork – including  a receipt for three children's bicycles, a letter from Gertrude Jekyll ordering medicine for a cat and labels for bottles, pots and jars, including some with Mr Barnes' name on.  It is all going to go in the skip but one of Moss' employees who has an interest in history manages to save some of it and many years later gives the bottles to the Museum.

They make a beautiful display but are also a salutary reminder of how little we could really do for so many medical conditions before the later 20th century.



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