Tuesday 5 October 2021

Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness

Despite many people thinking that phrase comes from the bible, it doesn't - it was John Wesley said it in a sermon entitled "on dress". He stressed that Christians should be 'pure in heart' - but that it was also good to be clean of body. His words had a great impact on a young Methodist in Nottingham, John Boot. John was a herbalist by trade, who became conscious of his responsibility to his fellow citizens. He began offering medicines, and offering healthcare to the working poor, for little cost . Sadly he died aged just 45, leaving a young wife, Mary, and a 10 year old son, Jesse.

Jesse followed his dad's beliefs, and when he inherited the business aged 21, he set about expanding it. He bought medicines in bulk, so he could offer them at lower prices, and he took great care of his workforce. 

The business grew and grew, and Jesse became wealthy. He protected open spaces in the city from development, donating Highfields Estate [now Nottingham University Campus] to the city.  He provided a public swimming pool, and several public libraries. 

His stores included lifts, public toilets, and many facilities which were quite innovative in  Victorian times. 

Throughout his life, Jesse and his wife Florence were committed to ensuring that the poorest members of society were able to obtain their basic hygiene requisites and medical requirements at an affordable price. 

So I think Mr Boot would be really pleased to know that his company has partnered with the charity The Hygiene Bank to continue his original aims. You can buy items in store to donate, drop off unused toiletries, or just make a monetary donation.

Jesse and Florence understood that feeling clean is so important to a person's sense of self worth and ongoing health. Soap is a necessity not a luxury. Many more people in the UK are struggling since the pandemic, especially now the government furlough scheme is ending. HygieneBanks deserve our support just as FoodBanks do. 

"Boots the Chemist" has been a presence on our high street for so long, we almost take them for granted. I hope they survive a lot longer, especially when they are doing good things like this to help others. Thank you Jesse for your legacy 


  1. Ah, this was lovely to read! I enjoyed reading about John Boot. It is really helpful and heartening to realise the origin of such High street giants as being so noble. I also believe that you can take your tablet blister packs to Boots to recycle through Terracycle although I could be making that up!

    1. I know larger Superdrugs take empty blister packs, I don't know about Boots

  2. You are right; personal hygiene items are so necessary! That's good to know that the company has set up collection boxes for hygiene products.

  3. The poor are getting poorer whilst basic medicines and toiletries are getting dearer. I shall contribute wherever I see a collecting box, as I do with food banks.

  4. We so easily take things like soap and toothpaste for granted

  5. I never knew the background to Boots but am so pleased to have read it now. What a wonderful family.

  6. What a good idea that is. Boots is unchanging, it's always been there and hopefully always will be,


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