The British aristocracy consumed human flesh, a new book on medicinal cannibalism reveals.

The well-off in Britain and Europe swallowed parts of the human body, including its flesh, blood and bones, as medicine until the end of the 18th century.

Even as they denounced the cannibals of the New World, they applied, drank, or wore powdered Egyptian mummies, human fat, flesh, bone, blood, brains and skin. Dr Richard Sugg, a Durham University academic, writes: "James I refused corpse medicine; Charles II made his own; and Charles I was made into corpse medicine. Users included Francis I, Elizabeth I's surgeon, John Banister, William III, and Queen Mary."