The strange history of drinking

An exhibition charting the pleasures and pitfalls of wine, beer and spirits through the ages has gone on display at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in Regent's Park, London.

Gin lane by William Hogarth, showing the evils of his consumption

An exhibition charting the pleasures and pitfalls of wine, beer and spirits through the ages has gone on display at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in Regent’s Park, London. Through a variety of intriguing paintings, prints, rare books, objects and photographs – including loans from the Museum of London, the Wellcome Library and the Cartoon Museum – ‘This bewitching poison’: alcohol and the Royal College of Physicians traces the strange and occasionally deadly medicinal use and consumption of alcohol in history.

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The exhibition explores the history of alcohol consumption from the ‘gin craze’ in the 1700s to minimum unit pricing in 2014.

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‘This bewitching poison’ is on show at the Royal College of Physicians, Regents Park, London, until 27 June.

A lithograph showing an image from the history of drinking
Lithograph. Image courtesy of Marlborough Fine Art, London (© Paula Rego)
Gin lane by William Hogarth, showing the evils of gin consumption
‘Gin Lane’ by William Hogarth aims to show the evils of gin consumption.
A poster showing an image from the history of drinking
A poster showing an image from the history of drinking
(© Martin Rowson)
A cartoon showing an image from the history of drinking
Lithograph. Image courtesy of Marlborough Fine Art, London (© Paula Rego)
A lithograph displaying a man drinking alcohol from a tap
Lithograph. Image courtesy of Marlborough Fine Art, London (© Paula Rego)
A cartoon showing a man in a bar
(© Roger Penwill, Cartoon Museum collection)
A poster showing an image from the history of drinking
It reads ‘He is discharged from his employment for drunkenness: they pawn their clothes to supply the bottle’. (© Wellcome Library, London)
A poster showing an image from the history of drinking
(© Wellcome Library, London)