Bedford’s Panacea Museum has opened a new exhibition today that focuses on Edwardian women’s history and delves into the lives of the women who formed the organisation.
Open until 25 October, the exhibition will show items never on display in the museum before, giving visitors an opportunity to see personal items of the founders such as clothing, books and musical instruments.
Most of the 12 women who first formed the Panacea Society were in their 50s or 60s. Joining the group gave them freedom from previous family ties.
Despite their wealth and education, it was common for women of the time to have spent years at home looking after their own families and elderly relatives.
Women who had studied religion and theology at University found the best they could hope for after graduation was running the local Sunday School.
The world of politics was also male-dominated and seen as highly unsuitable for women, whereas the Church of England, only allowed men to become priests and preach.
Naturally feeling unfilled and marginalised by society, Edwardian women turned to the Panacea Society which gave them a chance to pursue political, academic and religious activities.
Most of all it gave them a chance to have their voices heard.
To see textiles, archive materials, personal objects and artworks that help tell the story of some truly incredible women, visit the Panacea Museum on Newnham Road, Bedford.
Entry to the museum is free, Thursday to Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm.