Edward Jenner Museum
Edward Jenner was born in Berkeley in 1749. Orphaned before he was 5 years old, his brothers and sisters set him on a career of medicine. He completed his training with the great surgeon John Hunter in London.
At the age of 23 he returned to Berkeley as the local doctor, leaving only to maintain smaller practices in London and Cheltenham.
"The Chantry" became his home for 38 years. From the early years of his career he was intrigued by country-lore which said that milkmaids who caught the mild cowpox could not catch smallpox, one of the most feared diseases of all time. (It killed up to 20% of the population). Today smallpox has gone thanks to Jenner.
A Brave Experiment
He devised a brave experiment. On 14th May 1796 a milkmaid, Sarah Nelmes, came to him with cowpox. He passed the disease on to James Phipps (his gardener's son), by scratching infected material into his skin (vaccination). When James had recovered from the cowpox Jenner tried to give him smallpox - without success. Jenner gathered more evidence and published his finding (at his own expense) in 1798. Despite opposition to his revolutionary ideas, his publication (known as the 'Inquiry') was translated and rapidly passed around the world.
In 1967 the World Health Organisation masterminded a final global plan to eradicate smallpox. Success was announced in 1980 with the declaration: Smallpox is Dead! Edward Jenner's discovery has now been developed into one of the most important parts of modern medicine - Immunology. This science helps us to treat many infectious diseases, and to understand transplantation, allergies and diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and AIDS.
Jenner made several other important contributions to medicine. He was probably the first to associate angina with hardening of the arteries. He also described Rheumatic Heart Disease and purified important medicines.
Edward Jenner has also become famous in other fields of science. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1789 for correctly describing the curious nesting behaviour of cuckoos. He was also one of the first to publish convincing evidence that some species of birds migrated to other countries in the winter. (Many believed they hibernated). Together with his friend John Hunter, he studied the hibernation of mammals such hedgehogs and dormice.
Edward Jenner was probably the first person to fly a balloon in Britain. Filled with Hydrogen and launched from Berkeley Castle, it travelled 24 miles. A skilled geologist and fossil-hunter, Jenner discovered the first Plesiosaurus fossil on nearby Stinchcombe Hill.
Jenner's home is now dedicated to the memory of the man and his work. His study remains much as it was the day he died in 1823. In its peaceful garden is the thatched hut where he vaccinated the poor, free of charge. Grape vines that he planted still crop heavily, originally planted from the great vine at Hampton Court Palace.
The Chantry and its grounds are available for venue hire. Options range from meeting or training room space in the Old Cyder House (for up to 40 people) and a meeting or intimate private dining experience in Jenner's former Dining Room (for up to 8 people).
The consequences of Jenner's work are eloquently explained in an exhibition on modern immunology. This uses models and computers with games and CD-ROMs. It helps everyone, from doctors to children, to appreciate the importance of that first experiment 200 years ago.
Please note that the 'Immunology Works' exhibition is on the first floor and not accessible to wheelchair users.
As the river Severn lies between The Museum and Lydney Park Gardens, The GWR Museum at Coleford and the Nelson Museum Monmouth, the road miles are greatly in excess of those listed to nearby attractions.
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The Edward Jenner Museum is in Berkeley, mid-way between Bristol and Gloucester:
Jn 14 of M5 and then 1 3/4 miles from the junction of A38 & B4066 1 minute by footpath from Berkeley Castle.
Edward Jenner Museum Postcode for SatNav: GL13 9BN