Natural Choice

Behind the modern brick and glass shop front is one of 2 cruck-frame buildings in Ashbourne. This one was built in 1526. It was bought by a druggist (Victorian pharmacist) in 1856 and is now a popular health food shop and therapy centre.

"Osborne’s Mixture for Epilepsy" was made, bottled and sent around the world from these premises in the early 1900s.

No 24 St John’s Street (Natural Choice) is a cruck-framed building, with timbers recently dated to 1526*.  This was probably 3 cottages built end on to the street. There are faint traces of blackening on the cruck blades showing that a fire affecting the original building, which was then rebuilt with the addition of an extra storey.  The reconstructed building was still timber and probably jettied similar to the neighbouring bakers.  A further rebuild using bricks took place in the 18th Century and, finally, in the 1960s a brick frontage was added. 

In the mid-19th Century, No 24 was owned by Willaim Hooworth, a farrier.  On his death in 1856, it was sold to Frederick Williamson Greaves, a druggist and grocer.  One of his rivals in the Town was James Osborne who had a pharmacy on the site of Bennets on the other side of St John’s Street.  When Greaves died in 1894, Osborne leased No 24 and purchased the building outright in 1919.  Osborne’s wealth was founded on the success of his “Mixture for Epilepsy”, which he exported all around the world from No 24.  When he died in 1926, his estate was valued at £20, 464 – a considerable sum.  The building later became electrical goods and repair shop, and subsequently, a record shop.

The use of the building came full circle when, in 1991, No 24 was purchased by Steven and Roy Parker who moved their health food business from a neighbouring property. The cruck-frame is visible from inside the shop.

* See the report entitled  'The Development of Ashbourne Market Place in the 15th and 16th Centuries' at the bottom of the Building Features page. This has used tree-ring dating (dendrochronology) on a number of properties in the town.

James Osborne's fortune was founded on his "Mixture for Epilepsy", which was exported from No 24 all around the world.

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