Festivals |
30th July 2016

Kendal Black Drop

Live street theatre on Friday :  Catch Ann Todd (played by Bethany Latham) and her maid, Hannah Backhouse (Marisa Crane) peddling the famous cure all,  ‘Genuine Kendal Black Drop’.  They have borrowed a seed spreader from a farming uncle and will be trundling around the yards with their latest brew.   Ann Todd, a Quaker who lived in Kirkland is believed to have invented the recipe and   sold it as ‘superior in quality to similar articles advertised by the Royal College of Surgeons’.   The labels for the bottles were created by Brewery Youth Artseen, inspired by Victorian labels on medicines.


The original recipe is unknown but it is believed to have contained similar ingredients:

5oz of purified opium

Jamaica pepper

Cinnamon Saffron

Seville orange peel

A pint of rectified spirits of wine.


The whole concoction heated, strained and sweetened with sugar candy and it was reckoned to be 3-4 times the strength of conventional tincture of opium. This mixture was heated gently for about three weeks then allowed to digest for a week or longer, strained and then the liquor evaporated to the consistency of a syrup. The simmering process must have been very “uncongenial “work as the women had to wear masks to prevent the fumes from damaging their fair complexions and in order to preserve the secret it had to be brewed at night when servants had gone to bed and neighbours were unlikely to call.  Not to be tried at home!


30th July 2016

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