Bedford’s Panacea Museum and ‘Garden of Eden’ to reopen for 2024 season

Panacea Museum new entrance on Newnham Road. Image: Panacea Museum
Panacea Museum new entrance on Newnham Road. Image: Panacea Museum

One of the most fascinating museums in the UK will reopen on Thursday (1 February), giving visitors a glimpse into the lives of members of the secretive Panacea Society.

The Panacea Museum tells the story of the Panacea Society – a Christian group formed in the early twentieth century who created their own ‘Garden of Eden’ in the centre of Bedford.

The museum is located across several Victorian buildings that formed the community’s headquarters, including ‘The Haven’ (the new entrance building’) ‘Castleside’ and the ‘Founder’s House’. The museum is set in beautifully kept grounds – known as the Garden of Eden -already beginning to bud with the first signs of Spring.

During its annual winter closure, the museum team has been hard at work behind the scenes to prepare the new displays and unearthing many items which will be displayed for the first time.

The most significant change will be the relocation of the museum’s main entrance and welcome spaces to 11 Newnham Road, which sits at the junction of Castle Road and Newnham Road.

To celebrate the reopening a new exhibition ‘Panacea: A Cure for All Ills’ explores the ministry which gave the Panacea Society its name.

Originally titled ‘The Community of the Holy Ghost’, their more famous name came later, connected with their international Healing offer. The Society sent out linen squares, blessed by their leader Octavia, these were placed in water to make a therapeutic elixir.  

This exhibition explains the origins of the Healing, how it became so well-known, and why it finally ended.

The museum is open Thursday – Sunday from 10am- 4 pm. Last entry to the museum is 3.30pm.
Entry to the museum and exhibition is free. More information about visiting the museum can be found on their website here.

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