The battle against disease is nothing new. But the means to fight illness and maintain health have varied greatly over time. In part this reflects the changing ways in which our bodies and minds have been understood.

Method in the Madness: Understanding Ourselves Then & Now explores how the body, mind and disease were interpreted in the lifetime of John Hall (1575-1635), the physician who occupied Hall’s Croft in the early 1600s. John Hall lived there with his wife Susanna, the eldest daughter of William Shakespeare.

Understanding of the body, health and medicine during this period was quite different from our own and was rooted in the classical medicine of ancient Greece and Rome. Yet this was also a time when the body began to be mapped out by anatomists, who dissected corpses for research. It also saw the emergence of new theories about how the body actually worked.

While many of the treatments in the time of John Hall seem strange or even dangerous, they were designed to relieve suffering and pain, to prolong life and save loved ones.