BBC Home > BBC News > Wales

Physicians link to prince's home

25 November 06 09:38 GMT

A legendary family of healers may have prompted Prince Charles to choose the Carmarthenshire hamlet of Myddfai as the location of his first Welsh home.

The Physicians of Myddfai lived in the area in the 13th Century and were renowned for their healing powers.

They spawned a tradition of medicine which continued for centuries and their history became entwined with folklore.

Experts believe interest in the physicians may have led to Prince Charles to buy Llwynywormwood.

The prince is negotiating to buy the three-bedroom farmhouse set in almost 200 acres as a base for him and the Duchess of Cornwall to use when they visit Wales.

It is also reported that the royals are considering letting their Welsh home to holidaymakers.

The prince was apparently intrigued by the physicians' story when he opened an exhibition on their work at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, a few miles away at Llanarthne.

Medieval texts suggest the physicians were Cadwgan, Gruffudd and Einion, sons of Rhiwallon Feddyg, who were doctors to Rhys Gryg, the Lord of Dinefwr in the 13th Century.

According to local legend, the family's healing powers were inherited from a mysterious lady who emerged from the waters of Llyn-y-Fan Fach lake, but manuscripts understood to contain their teachings still exist.

They include lists of recipes using herbs, animals and minerals, which some claim were unusually detailed and proof Welsh medicine was ahead of most of Europe at the time.

In 2001, research into the medicinal properties of native Welsh plants using the physicians' manuscripts as a starting point began at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Professor Terry Turner, a retired professor of pharmacy said the prince expressed his interest in the work of the physicians when he came to perform the official opening of the gardens.

Prof Turner said it had "crossed his mind" the prince's request for more information on the physicians may have led to his decision to buy the estate of Llynywormwood.

The professor added many of the plants used by the physicians were still used for medicinal purposes.

He said the manuscripts showed they had used a "whole range" of approaches in their healing.

Those included a cure for fever which involved the patient sitting in a bath of cold water without touching the water with their arms, and a hot plaster on their head.

'Cup-full of blood'

Still in the bath, the patient would have their arm bled.

"The bleeding or cutting was not just a small cut, but cutting into the vein to get a cup-full of blood," Prof Turner explained.

He said the physician of Myddfai's writings also contained aphorisms, or truths, many of which were similar to advice still followed today.

"Some of the truths match amazingly well, like don't eat a heavy meal before you go to bed, and taking exercise is important," he said.

Share this

Related BBC sites