The School of Herbal Medicine opened in 2015. This was the completion of over a decade of hard work by Susan Vassar, Val Thomas and Maggie Pope, who first had the vision of founding a new school together 12 years previously.

Together we felt that the training necessary to become a competent and confident medical herbalist should take longer than 3 years, which is the length of most courses currently on offer.

We are offering instead an Advanced Diploma in Herbal Medicine taking 6 full years to complete, providing an academic, rigorous and in-depth approach which will enable you to practice confidently as a professional Medical Herbalist; seeing patients, performing physical examinations and writing prescriptions.

The Team

Susan Vassar

DPhil (Oxon)

Susan obtained her first degree in Maths and Physics and then went on to study for an MSc in Astronomy at Sussex University followed by a Doctorate in Astrophysics at Oxford University. She has a PGCE and has taught Maths and Physics privately from junior school level to ‘A’ level and also taught for the Open University at degree level.She has a BSc (Hons) in Herbal Medicine which she began at the College of Phytotherapy and finished at UEL.

Christina Stapley

BSc (Hons)

Christina Stapley has been a historical herb consultant, tutoring workshops at Museums and other sites for 20 years. These cover from Celtic through to the Victorian period. Having qualified with a BSc in Phytotherapy in 2004, practising as a medical herbalist, she tutored a postgraduate course, Stillroom to Dispensary for NIMH in Reading in 2010. This involved making numerous historical recipes and discussing their suitability for use in modern Herbal Practice.
Christina has written three books on growing and using herbs, Herbwise Naturally, Herbcraft Naturally and Herb Sufficient. She has also edited a book of cookery and medicinal recipes from 1694 for the Blencowe family. The Receipt Book of Lady Anne Blencowe. Christina has written two courses on Ageing Successfully and is currently working on a book about Medicinal Trees.

Maggie Pope

BSc (Hons)

Maggie obtained her BSc (Hons) in Herbal Medicine with the College of Phytotherapy degree course through the University of East London. She runs a practice in Somerset www.growingmedicine.co.uk and grows and wildcrafts many of her own herbs which she prepares in her own pharmacy. To better understand the propagation and growing of herbs she qualified with the RHS. She runs workshops and gives talks, and has written for various magazines. Maggie has also obtained a Diploma in Education and Training.

Richard Savage


Richard Savage qualified MB, BS, LRCP, MRCS at Guy’s Hospital Medical School in 1970, having also obtained a First Class Honours B.Sc. degree in Pharmacology specializing in the action of catechol amines and the autonomic nervous system, the effects of synthetic steroid hormones on the reproductive system, and methodology in pharmacological research.
As a student and while a pre-registration House Physician at Guy’s he gained special experience in cardiology, gastroenterology, dermatology and endocrinology. He also gained the Golding-Bird Gold Medal in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, going on to obtain the Diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists while a House Surgeon at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton.
Although he officially retired in 2007, he still has a deep interest in helping people find healing for illnesses that have failed to respond to conventional methods by whatever means, and has a deep respect for the therapeutic treasury mankind has been given in the plant world.

Ann Fells

MSc MCIEEM  BSc [Hons] Environmental Biology, 1992; MSc Land Resource Management, 1994. Member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management 

Ann works for the Wildlife Trust in Somerset and joined the teaching staff to teach Botany, and specialise in Field Trips.

Sara Hills

Hills BSc [Hons], PGCE, NCFE Counselling & Helping Skills, MNIMH. First Aid, Health and Safety, Food Hygiene, Manual Handling, Safeguarding,  

Sara trained with Susan and Maggie and has been working as a Medical Herbalist in the South West for several years. She has a particular interest in patient care and in the counselling skills necessary to make patients feel at ease and cared for. Living by the sea she also is an expert in collecting seaweeds and in using them to promote health. She runs several courses a year to teach the public how to identify the different seaweeds and how to incorporate them into their diets.

Nigel Cox

MA (Hons) Jurisprudence, City & Guilds Certificate in Assessing Candidates using a range of Methods, PGCE in Education 

Nigel will teach Year 2 Botany from 2018. He lectures in horticuture at Bridgwater College and has a wide association with both education and business. He is a trainer with WWT and National Trust and with the Soil Association. He is also a consultant to Growing Media Industry- formulations, testing, analysis and advice on fertiliser bases. In addition he is an External Advisor on Degree programmes (UCLAN), Developer Consultant City and Guilds Technicals: part of the team writing the new specifications and exams in land and wildlife (Countryside and Fisheries) and External Examiner- Cotswold Garden Design School- Advising and supporting on the design programmes being offered.