The people behind HHRN

Since its inception in 2009, there have been a range of experts facilitating the Herbal History Research Network including founding members Susan Francia, Barbara Lewis, Vicki Pitman, Anne Stobart and Nicky Wesson. For more info on how the HHRN was set up, here’s a link to a blog about it.

Current organisers include:

Anne Stobart, Founder

anne stobartAnne has a BSc (Hons) in Experimental Psychology and is trained as a professional medical herbalist, having a clinical practice in Crediton, Devon, UK. She also holds an MA in Women’s Studies from the University of Exeter. Until 2010 Anne was Director of Programmes for Complementary Health Sciences, at Middlesex University, where she completed her PhD in the history of medicine. Anne writes for the international online Recipes Hypotheses blog on the history of recipes ( She co-edited Critical Approaches to the History of Western Herbal Medicine (Bloomsbury, 2014) and has published some of her historical research in Household Medicine in Seventeenth-century England (Bloomsbury, 2016). She is cofounder of the Holt Wood project on sustainable cultivation and harvest of medicinal trees and shrubs .

Julie Bruton-Seal, Chair

Julie Bruton-Seal 2017

Julie is a practising herbalist, iridologist and cranio-sacral therapist working in rural Norfolk. A Fellow of the Association of Master Herbalists (AMH), she is currently Chair of the Herbal History Research Network. She is also an artist, jeweller, photographer and graphic designer.
She has co-authored five books about herbal medicine with her husband, Matthew Seal: Wayside Medicine: Forgotten Plants and How to Use Them (May 2017); The Herbalist’s Bible: John Parkinson’s Lost Classic Rediscovered (2014); Make Your Own Aphrodisiacs (2012); Kitchen Medicine (2010); and Hedgerow Medicine (2008). They are currently researching pre-historic uses of plants. They are members of The Association of Foragers and teach courses and workshops about foraging and herbal medicine making.

Alison Denham, Secretary

alison denham

Alison qualified as a herbal practitioner in 1984 and is based in Leeds, Yorkshire, UK. She is a Fellow of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, and has retired as Senior Lecturer in Herbal Medicine and Integrated Healthcare at the University of Central Lancashire. Her interest in history was reawakened through working on a joint publication with her colleagues, on the history of western herbal medicine. Alison’s main academic interests are in risk management in the professional practice of herbal medicine and in the publications of John Skelton (1805-1880) who was a prominent Chartist and later a leading herbal practitioner. She is  also a keen gardener, and makes fresh herbal preparations.

LinkedIn Profile

Frances Watkins, Treasurer

Frances completed her PhD at the University of East London, titled ‘Investigation of Antimicrobials fromIMG_E0665 Native British Plants used in 10th Century Anglo-Saxon Wound Healing Formulations’, and continues to publish from her doctoral research. She co-edited Herbal Exchanges, published in celebration of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists’ 150th anniversary of its founding in 1864 and regularly talks on medicinal plants from the hedgerows and herbal preparations that can be made in the home. Frances is a professional Medical Herbalist (BSc (Hons) in Herbal Medicine, Middlesex University, London, UK), with a practice in Hertfordshire, and is currently researching early medieval herbal formulations.

Christina Stapley, Co-Treasurer

christina stapleyChristina has a BSc (Hons) in Phytotherapy. Having researched herbal history for over 40 years, she has taken over 120 different practical workshops at museum venues since 1995. Her historical workshops at the Weald and Downland Living Museum cover pre-Roman to Victorian periods. She has tutored a week of ‘Settler’ herb workshops at Plimoth Plantation Museum near Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and a postgraduate course, ‘Stillroom to Dispensary’ for the National Institute of Medical Herbalists: a practical course making historical recipes and then discussing their suitability for use in modern practice. She has written Herbwise Naturally, Herbcraft Naturally and Herb Sufficient on growing and using herbs and edited The Receipt Book of Lady Anne Blencowe, 1694 (  Christina teaches the History of Western Herbal Medicine at The School of Herbal Medicine, Bridgwater, UK.

Victoria Pitman, Events & publicity

vicki pitmanA clinically qualified Western Herbal Medicine practitioner, Vicki gained her M.Phil. in Complemenetary Health Studies at Exeter University. Her dissertation was subsequently published as The Nature of the Whole, Holism in Ancient Greek and Indian Medicine ( Motilal Barnasidass, 2006). This research enabled her to combine her deep interests in both history and herbal medicine and traditional healing. She also holds higher degrees in education: an MA-T from Converse College, South Carolina, and City & Guilds Level 4 Subject Specialist Certificate in Adult Literacy, Wiltshire College, and has been a teacher and trainer in the field of Complementary Therapies and English. She is also qualified in Ayurveda, Reflexology, Aromatherapy, and Massage. In 1999 she co-organised with Dr. Dominik Wujastyk, a conference at the Wellcome Institute, on Precept and Practice in Traditional Medical Systems. Vicki has authored books on Herbal Medicine, Reflexology, Aromatherapy; several articles in international journals, and chapters in Reshaping Herbal Medicine, Knowledge Education and Professional Culture (ed. Catherine O’Sullivan, Elsevier, 2005) and Critical Approaches to the History of Western Herbal Medicine From Classical Antiquity to the Early Modern Period (ed. Susan Francia and Anne Stobart, Bloomsbury, 2014).

Kim Walker, Website & social media

kim walkerKim studied herbal medicine at the University of Westminster to MSc level. She is currently a doctoral student investigating the history of Cinchona bark (the source of the anti-malarial alkaloid quinine) collections and collectors in the 19th Century. This project is a collaboration between the Economic Botany Collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Royal Holloway, University of London.  Other projects have included investigating the development  of Eucalyptus as a medicine in the 19th Century. Kim has also published a  book on herbal medicine for beginners (Handmade Apothecary) and provides walks and workshops teaching people about botany, foraging and herbal remedy making.

Research website:

Foraging & workshops: