The Panacea Museum

The Panacea Museum The Panacea Museum tells the history of The Panacea Society, an interesting and unique religious community that once existed in Bedford. Please visit our website for current opening hours and exhibitions / events.
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This museum tells the story of the Panacea Society – a remarkable religious community formed in the early twentieth century. The Society was founded in 1919 by Mabel Barltrop, a 53-year-old widow who lived in Bedford. For 90 years, members of the society quietly lived, worked and worshipped God in their community. Although they took care to reveal little about themselves to outsiders, the society’s name became familiar to many people beyond Bedford through their national advertising campaign to open ‘Joanna Southcott’s Box’ a curious cultural icon of inter-war Britain. During the 1920s and 1930s the community grew to more than 70 resident members living in and around Albany Road in Bedford, with about 2,000 members living elsewhere across the world. Over 130,000 people applied to receive the Society’s method of healing through water – its ‘panacea’ to cure all illnesses The Panacea Museum is in ‘Castleside’, a beautiful Victorian house that was part of the community’s headquarters. It tells the story of the Panacea Society and other similar religious groups. The museum also incorporates several other buildings, set within the gardens, that formed the original community’s ‘campus’.

It's National Gardening week! Look out for plenty of Museum garden posts on their way. 🌿🌹
28/04/2020
National Gardening Week / RHS Gardening

It's National Gardening week! Look out for plenty of Museum garden posts on their way. 🌿🌹

Join the country's biggest celebration of gardening by sharing your love of edible produce

Yesterday's #LocalMuseumsUnite was #VintageVehicles , which we thought was too good to miss!  #panaceasociety #joannasou...
28/04/2020

Yesterday's #LocalMuseumsUnite was #VintageVehicles , which we thought was too good to miss! #panaceasociety #joannasouthcottsbox

Throwback - behind the scenes: This exciting shot of our maintenance man braving the heights of the museum was taken by ...
23/04/2020

Throwback - behind the scenes: This exciting shot of our maintenance man braving the heights of the museum was taken by our volunteer Roz, who was helping with an exhibition installation install in 2017. In 2018 we also had a major collections cleaning project running, here are volunteers Chris, Riya and Val getting to work.

Earth is our Home. Let’s work together to protect it this #EarthDay and every day. You can find great tips and challenge...
22/04/2020

Earth is our Home.

Let’s work together to protect it this #EarthDay and every day.

You can find great tips and challenges for the whole family on the Earth Day website so you can help save our planet - www.earthday.org

Let us know your tips and advice for reducing our carbon footprint!

New blog post up on our site! Written by our volunteer Adrian, it's an imagining of how the Members may have tackled the...
21/04/2020
Coronavirus and the Panaceans | The Panacea Museum

New blog post up on our site! Written by our volunteer Adrian, it's an imagining of how the Members may have tackled the crisis, and an exploration of their healing methods.

Welcome to the Panacea Museum and Panacea Charitable Trust where you can find out more about history and influences of The Panacea Society.

Did you know? 💡The principal building of the Panacea Museum was originally purchased in 1930 and intended as the place w...
18/04/2020

Did you know? 💡

The principal building of the Panacea Museum was originally purchased in 1930 and intended as the place where Joanna Southcott’s box would be opened by 24 Bishops of the Church of England.

The society expected the ceremony to last for three days, so preparations were made for the 24 bishops to enjoy a comfortable stay in ‘Castleside’.

In 1931 the Panacea Society bought a quantity of soap in preparation for the bishops’ visit. They also stockpiled hot water bottles, in case the box needed to be opened during the winter.

Behind the scenes- a selection of boxed books, belonging to the Barltrop family and Panacea Society members.
17/04/2020

Behind the scenes- a selection of boxed books, belonging to the Barltrop family and Panacea Society members.

Throwback to art activities in 2018/19. On the first Saturday of the month our volunteers run a printing session on our ...
16/04/2020

Throwback to art activities in 2018/19. On the first Saturday of the month our volunteers run a printing session on our 1857 press. Here are some of the results!

Octavia and the Panacea Society celebrated Easter, as they did with Christmas and other key dates in the Christian calen...
12/04/2020

Octavia and the Panacea Society celebrated Easter, as they did with Christmas and other key dates in the Christian calendar.
Happy Easter, from all at the Panacea Museum 🌿🌷

Did you know? 💡As a result of the Panacea Society’s publicity campaigns, Joanna Southcott’s Box of prophecies became a B...
11/04/2020

Did you know? 💡

As a result of the Panacea Society’s publicity campaigns, Joanna Southcott’s Box of prophecies became a British Cultural icon.

In 1969 the box even featured in a Monty Python comedy sketch on the BBC.

Photos of Ruth Klein and John Coghill, the last two living members of the Panacea Society, pictured with the real Box of prophecies before they passed away in 2014 and 2008 respectively.

#localhistory #hertsbedsheritage #hertsbedsbucks
#culturalheritage

Throwback to BedPop Science Lab 2019. We were joined by Bedfordshire Beekeepers Association and our Archivist ran folder...
09/04/2020

Throwback to BedPop Science Lab 2019. We were joined by Bedfordshire Beekeepers Association and our Archivist ran folder-making workshops.

New blog post up on our site- written by our volunteer Alison, the piece explores the founding of the Society and its ro...
08/04/2020
A Religious Community of Women | The Panacea Museum

New blog post up on our site- written by our volunteer Alison, the piece explores the founding of the Society and its roots in Southcottianism.

Welcome to the Panacea Museum and Panacea Charitable Trust where you can find out more about history and influences of The Panacea Society.

Did you know? 💡In October 1925, a special work of protection for Bedford took place. A circle was drawn with a radius of...
04/04/2020

Did you know? 💡

In October 1925, a special work of protection for Bedford took place.

A circle was drawn with a radius of twelve miles from the Panacea Society chapel. At eight points on the circle, linen squares were ceremonially buried.

This created ‘an ark of protection’ called the Royal Domain which members of the Panacea Society believed now belonged to God’s daughter Octavia.

Find out more about the Panacea Museum on our website: http://panaceamuseum.org/

#Throwback to 'Anthropocene: Keep it Green' held in the Museum gardens and organised by Precious EARTH ART Collective wi...
02/04/2020

#Throwback to 'Anthropocene: Keep it Green' held in the Museum gardens and organised by Precious EARTH ART Collective with Abundance Bedford and The Woodland Trust in attendance. What a wonderful and positive day.

Did you know? 💡During the Panacea Society’s most active years when members made every attempt to persuade the Church to ...
28/03/2020

Did you know? 💡

During the Panacea Society’s most active years when members made every attempt to persuade the Church to open Joanna Southcott’s box of prophecies, they did not actually have it in their possession.

In 1957 the Box was left to the Society in the will of its last custodian but it was not photographed until 2002. Its location remains a closely guarded secret to this present day.

The Museum is currently closed due to Covid-19 so until we can welcome visitors again you can find out more on our website: http://panaceamuseum.org

Throwback to some wonderful trips and events for our volunteers. The Museum is supported by a dedicated team of Front-of...
26/03/2020

Throwback to some wonderful trips and events for our volunteers. The Museum is supported by a dedicated team of Front-of-House, collections and archive volunteers. THANK YOU!

Did you know? 💡 During the 1920s and 1930s, the Panacea Society grew to over 70 resident membersliving in and around Alb...
21/03/2020

Did you know? 💡

During the 1920s and 1930s, the Panacea Society grew to over 70 resident members
living in and around Albany Road, Bedford, with about 2000 members living elsewhere across the world.

In 2012, following the death of the last member, the organisation changed its name to The Panacea Charitable Trust, marking the end of the Panacea Society as a religious community and announced the completion of a new museum that would tell the story of the Panacea Society.

We look forward to opening the museum again when it is safe for our visitors and staff.

Our cherry trees looking splendid earlier this week.
20/03/2020

Our cherry trees looking splendid earlier this week.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:From today, the Museum will be closed due to the Coronavirus. This is for the safety of our staff, visi...
13/03/2020

IMPORTANT NOTICE:
From today, the Museum will be closed due to the Coronavirus. This is for the safety of our staff, visitors and our volunteers. When we are able to re-open this will be announced via our social media accounts and website.

On International Women’s Day we are championing women’s rights and celebrating women’s achievements and their history.In...
08/03/2020

On International Women’s Day we are championing women’s rights and celebrating women’s achievements and their history.

In 1919 Mabel Barltrop, known by her followers as ‘Octavia’ formed the Panacea Society, in Bedford. Society members were convinced that God would soon act to bring about a new age – a period of peace and happiness called ‘the Millennium’.

The society was largely made up of women from middle-class backgrounds, who were afforded opportunities that women in the lower classes were not. The history of the Panacea Society and its female members is fascinating, and we are proud that it is a part of the rich, diverse and important history of women all over the world.

Women have made history and they are shaping our future.


#IDW2020 #EachForEqual

Thank you to everyone who came to visit the Panacea Museum today for our #bedpopsciencelab Garden Tour! We hope you lear...
07/03/2020

Thank you to everyone who came to visit the Panacea Museum today for our #bedpopsciencelab Garden Tour!

We hope you learnt some interesting facts about the trees of all shapes and sizes that can be found around The Higgins Museum and in our garden!

Amazing colourful prints were made on our printing press too 👏

#familyactivity #bedfordhiggins #craft #nature #explorebedford

The Panacea Museum's cover photo
07/03/2020

The Panacea Museum's cover photo

We are open today until 4pm. Come along to learn about the fascinating story of the Panacea Society, stroll through our ...
05/03/2020

We are open today until 4pm. Come along to learn about the fascinating story of the Panacea Society, stroll through our Gardens and enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

Tickets still available for our FREE BedPop Science Lab Garden Tours, suitable for ages 7+ . Come along on Saturday 7th ...
28/02/2020
FREE Garden Tour- BedPop Science Labs

Tickets still available for our FREE BedPop Science Lab Garden Tours, suitable for ages 7+ . Come along on Saturday 7th March to learn about the Castle Gardens (outside The Higgins) and then onto the Panacea Museum gardens. Tours are at 10.30, 12 and 2pm.

From Mulberry to Yggdrasil

Garden update- new pops of colour appearing in our 'Eden'.
25/02/2020

Garden update- new pops of colour appearing in our 'Eden'.

Behind the scenes, our collections team are working on our new exhibition 'Edwardian Culture and the Panacea Society' wh...
22/02/2020

Behind the scenes, our collections team are working on our new exhibition 'Edwardian Culture and the Panacea Society' which opens on the 26th March.

BedPop Science Labs is back on Saturday 7th March! To celebrate #britishscienceweek we will be offering free STEM activi...
12/02/2020

BedPop Science Labs is back on Saturday 7th March! To celebrate #britishscienceweek we will be offering free STEM activities at the Museum, along with The Higgins Bedford, John Bunyan Museum and Bedford Central Library
Watch this space for details and booking information.

A few images from our most recent event, 'Winter Artworks'. Visitors to the Museum were able to use our printing press t...
08/02/2020

A few images from our most recent event, 'Winter Artworks'. Visitors to the Museum were able to use our printing press to create pieces inspired by our Gardens. Our next printing date is 7th March.

Garden updates- everything is starting to bloom.
06/02/2020

Garden updates- everything is starting to bloom.

We are recruiting! Follow the link below for details.
01/02/2020
Jobs | The Panacea Museum

We are recruiting! Follow the link below for details.

Welcome to the Panacea Museum and Panacea Charitable Trust where you can find out more about history and influences of The Panacea Society.

Tomorrow!
31/01/2020

Tomorrow!

Our newest blog post is centered around Mabel Barltrop's daughter Dilys, and her recently installed headstone at Foster ...
30/01/2020
Lillies for Dilys | The Panacea Museum

Our newest blog post is centered around Mabel Barltrop's daughter Dilys, and her recently installed headstone at Foster Hill Road Cemetery.

Welcome to the Panacea Museum and Panacea Charitable Trust where you can find out more about history and influences of The Panacea Society.

Behind the scenes, our collections team (both staff and volunteers) have been busy preparing items for our next exhibiti...
27/01/2020

Behind the scenes, our collections team (both staff and volunteers) have been busy preparing items for our next exhibition.

Meanwhile, you can visit the our extensive permanent exhibition, as well as the Founder's House and Chapel. We are open this week Thurs- Sat, 10-4.

The snowdrops are out in the Museum gardens! #spring
23/01/2020

The snowdrops are out in the Museum gardens! #spring

Objects in Emily Goodwin's bedroom in Founder's House. Emily joined the Panacea Society as a servant and rose to the top...
17/01/2020

Objects in Emily Goodwin's bedroom in Founder's House. Emily joined the Panacea Society as a servant and rose to the top of the organisation, eventually taking over as leader after Octavia died in 1934.

Lighter evenings, and the green shoots of Spring! Visit the Museum and Gardens, open Thursday- Saturday between 10am and...
12/01/2020

Lighter evenings, and the green shoots of Spring! Visit the Museum and Gardens, open Thursday- Saturday between 10am and 4pm.

Opening times from now until the end of March. Our Tea Shop is available 10.00-15.30 each day.
09/01/2020

Opening times from now until the end of March. Our Tea Shop is available 10.00-15.30 each day.

Congratulations to the two lucky 'Festive Fun' attendees who won our raffle! They have been contacted and will be collec...
19/12/2019

Congratulations to the two lucky 'Festive Fun' attendees who won our raffle! They have been contacted and will be collecting their Christmas hampers soon.

Merry Christmas from the team at the Panacea Museum! Thank you to all that attended at donated at our special Bedford Fo...
18/12/2019

Merry Christmas from the team at the Panacea Museum! Thank you to all that attended at donated at our special Bedford Foodbank Santa events. Please note we are now closed for the holidays, re-opening Thursday 9th January.

Santa has had a busy morning. Come along between 1pm and 3pm for the chance to meet him and get a present!
14/12/2019

Santa has had a busy morning. Come along between 1pm and 3pm for the chance to meet him and get a present!

Santa arrives in one hour!
14/12/2019

Santa arrives in one hour!

As it's election day, we thought it would be a good time to share the story of Ellen Oliver, prominent Panacea Society m...
12/12/2019
Ellen Oliver – a Suffragette activist

As it's election day, we thought it would be a good time to share the story of Ellen Oliver, prominent Panacea Society member and suffragist. Get voting!

Ellen Frederica Oliver was born on 16th July 1870 in Guernsey, one of nine children. Her background was perhaps a common one for middle-class women who became interested in equality for women. Both her parents were from wealthy families. Her father, a Captain in the Royal Artillery, retired at 40 af...

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MK40 3NX

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If there is one thing you should do before the End of the World this is it!
Lovely coffee & cake in the beautiful Panacea garden after our Friday Wellbeing walk.
I was experimenting with The Panacea Museum's Columbian printing press yesterday for the first time! I made about a dozen prints, but I think this one is my favourite of them all. 💚 Thank you to The Panacea Museum and Jill for this opportunity! :)
The children had lots of fun playing with the props while we found out more about this museum. We shall definitely take a visit soon!