Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Sweet chestnut

0501. I’m from Croatia.  When I was at school we used to go to the woods and collect sackfuls of chestnuts which the teachers sold to raise funds for the school [Streatham, London, June 2022].

2. In France, I think northwest France, they make their roofs of chestnut to protect their homes from lightning [Chelsea Physic Garden, London, July 2011].

3. As children whenever we came to a sweet chestnut tree we would pick a leaf and strip out the leaf tissue from between the veins to make fish bones (skeleton). Useful if playing at ‘keeping home’ and cooking – very realistic. 1940s, Kent [Weobley, Herefordshire, August 1998].

4. [Sussex, during World War II] one lady asked them (them being my cousin and her charges, the schoolchildren) to collect sweet chestnut leaves, as she made a cough mixture from them [Melksham, Wiltshire, April 1990].

Images: main, planted, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, September 2014; inset, roast chestnut seller, Praça Mouzinho de Albuquerque, Porto, Portugal, January 2015.

Iron and wood chestnut roaster, British, 1850-1900, British Folk Art Gallery, Compton Verney, Warwickshire, April 2023.