The Panacea Museum


As museums and galleries across the UK begin to reopen, please take extra care to check their websites and social media channels for up to date information as opening times, days and dates here may not be correct.

9 Newnham Road
Bedford
Bedfordshire
MK40 3NX
England

  • Phone: 01234 353178

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

Further information

Opening Hours:

Museum and Gardens February Half Term 0 October Half Term Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 10.00pm – 4.00pm Please check our website for special events and extra Open Days.

Charges:

Admission free.

Travel directions:

Getting Here By Road: If arriving from the north or south there are excellent links to Bedford from the M1, A1 and A6. If travelling from the west or east, the A421 and A428 provide easy access to the town. There is an excellent Park & Ride facility on the A6 at Elstow, south of Bedford, which is also convenient for visitors arriving on the A421 from the M1 and A1. The main routes to Bedford are: From the M1 (North and South) : Exit at Junction 13 and follow the A421 towards Bedford, and follow the signs to the Town Centre. Please see below for details From the A1 (North) : Exit at the Black Cat roundabout and follow the A428 to Bedford, and then signs to the Town Centre. Please see below for details. From the A1 (South) : Exit at the Sandy roundabout and follow the A603 to Bedford, and then signs to the Town Centre The nearest public car park is at Lurke Street, just a 5 minutes walk from The Panacea Museum. If attending evening functions the nearest 24 hour, open air, public car parks are St Peter’s Street and Riverside Square, both about a10 minute walk. One disabled parking space allocated for wheelchair access is available at 9 Newnham Road, Bedford. If you wish to use this facility please contact the museum before you visit. The main museum building is fully accessible, However access is limited in the grounds and other buildings which have steps, uneven surfaces and narrow doorways. By Train: The Panacea is 0.9 miles from Bedford Midland Railway Station. Follow the sign posted route to the Town Centre and Art Gallery & Museum we are opposite The Higgins Museum, about 20 minute walk. Alternatively there are taxis readily available at the railway station. There are frequent services from London (St Pancras International) with trains arriving and departing every 30 minutes. The First Capital Connect service runs from Brighton, Gatwick Airport, London stations, St Albans and Luton through to Bedford. The East Midlands Trains service runs from Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Kettering and Wellingborough to Bedford, and on to St Pancras International. Leave M1 Junc 13, at R/A take 2nd Exit onto A421 - Cambridge, Bedford, Milton Keynes. At R/A take 2nd Exit onto A421, - Cambridge, Bedford. At Marsh Leys Junction continue forward onto the A421. Bedford. Branch left, then at R/A take the 1st Exit onto the A5141. Bedford. At traffic signals continue forward onto the A5141. Bedford A6 At traffic signals continue forward onto the A5141. Bedford At traffic signals continue forward onto the A5141. Bedford A6 At traffic signals continue forward onto the A5141. Town Centre, Kettering A6 At R/A take the 1st Exit onto the A6. Town Centre, Kettering Keep in Right hand Lane then shortly bear right – All other routes, Town Centre At traffic signals turn left onto Saint Mary's Street - A6 – Town Centre, Kettering Bear left onto St Paul's Square (one-way) Bear right onto Saint Paul's Square At traffic signals turn right onto the A6 Keep in left-hand lanes then continue forward Turn left onto The Embankment Turn left onto Newnham Road - Arrived Leave A1 at Sandy R/A signposted Bedford A603 Turn on To A603 At mini-roundabout continue forward on A603 At R/A take 3rd Exit onto A603 At R/A take the 2nd Exit onto A603 At R/A take the 2nd Exit onto the A603 At R/A take the 1st Exit onto A603 At R/A take the 1st Exit onto A5140 – Town Centre, Luton A6, M1, Milton Keynes At R/A take the 3rd Exit onto A6 – Town Centre, Kettering At roundabout take the 3rd Exit onto the A6 - Town Centre, Kettering Keep in right-hand lane then shortly bear right - All other Routes, Town Centre At traffic signals turn left onto Saint Mary's Street - A6 Town Centre, Kettering Bear left onto St Paul's Square (one-way) Bear right onto Saint Paul's Square At traffic signals turn right onto the A6 Keep in left-hand lanes then continue forward Turn left onto The Embankment Turn left onto Newnham Road - Arrived

Upcoming events:

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.

Facilities and services

Facilities:

  • Baby changing facilities
  • Buggy parking facilities
  • High chairs in café/restaurant
  • Parking for disabled available
  • Toilets for disabled
  • Wheelchair access to some public areas
  • Bicycle park
  • Cafeteria
  • Gardens open to public
  • Picnic area
  • Shop
  • Toilets
  • Research facilities for academics

Facilities information:

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’. The main museum building is fully accessible, However access is limited in the grounds and other buildings which have steps, uneven surfaces and narrow doorways.

Services:

  • Events and resources for children and families
  • Large print information and/or interpretation
  • Brochure or leaflet available with directions to museum
  • Guided tours
  • Information point provided
  • Volunteering scheme offered
  • Academic publications and resources available
  • Member of staff available with responsibility for education
  • Secondary school education service available
  • Special educational needs education services available

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