Rely on the effect of a good ale
A pale ale old Scottish bitter with an ABV of 3.7%. A very hoppy and bitter ale based on a William Younger 1851 recipe using Maris Otter pale ale malt infused with Fuggles via a three-stage hopping process. A very intense flavour remains on the palate between mouthfuls.
Fen Ague, was an endemic disease once common in the East Anglian Fens. Ague derives from an Old French word meaning a severe fever. It was also known as: Marsh Fever, Paludal Fever, and Autumnal Fever. It was characterised by an intermittent, periodical fever of about three days duration and the quakes. Local names often personified the disease as it was such a common feature of fenland life so it could be known as: the Bailiff of the Marshes, Lord John’s Fever or Old Johnny Axey.
It was referred to by Chaucer in the Nun’s Priest’s Tale in the late 14th century and by Shakespeare in many of his plays. Samuel Pepys suffered from it and Oliver Cromwell is said to have died from it in 1658. Both of these latter figures had strong connections to Huntingdonshire and likely contracted the ague there.
What was it? The seasonal pattern of primary infection and relapse suggest a benign, tertian malaria. (Probably due to the protozoan Plasmodium vivax(1) and spread by Anopheles mosquitoes(2).)
The disease declined during the 17th century with the start of major fen drainage schemes and the cooling period of the Little Ice Age but again reached epidemic proportions between 1826 and 1829, and 1857 and 1860 but these were the last major flare-ups. Increasingly effective drainage schemes led to the gradual eradication of the vector mosquito species and the ague declined from then on; dying out in the early 20th century.
The fen people had no cure but used sedatives such as opium or a preparation made from Ash tree bark to relieve the fever. From the 17th century, cinchona powder (the Jesuit Bark) was used as it contained quinine but poor people, “generally relied on the effect of good ale” according to a local clergyman. The fens became notorious for “opium eaters” and another Fenland physician wrote that, “a patch of white poppies is usually found in most Fen gardens”.
Today, when travelling, the usual remedy for malaria is to take Mefloquine (Lariam) but, like opium, this may cause hallucinations and paranoia in some cases. If you are worried about contracting ague today in East Anglia we respectfully suggest you may actually be a bit paranoid to start with. So here at Angles Ales we recommend that you “rely on the effect of a good ale” as most fen people did of old and imbibe a few pints of our glorious session ale at 3.8% ABV. At least then you can live up to its name and become Happy Paranoids.
J. Dobson, “Malaria in England: a geographical and historical perspective.” (Parasitologica, 1994, 36: 35-60, p. 55)
George H. F. Nuttall, Louis Cobbett and T. Strangeways-Pigg, ”Studies in relation to malaria: the geographical distribution of Anopheles spp in relation to the former distribution of ague in England.” ( Hygiene, January 1901, 1: 4-44, pp. 16-18)