The house of a beautiful period among the trees next to a church in a quiet English village is the headquarters of a little known medical museum.
More than 200 years ago, the Queen Ann’s style building (Baroque English architecture) was the home of a humble folk doctor. With its simple collection of antiques in glass cabinets, it looks like a tourist attraction doomed to obscurity.
But now that the UK Museums have reopened after the restrictions imposed by the Kovid-19 pandemic are lifted, the Dr Jenner’s House (Dr Jenner’s House) in Berkeley, next to the Gloucestershire Cotswolds, is preparing to receive more visitors.
This is where the science of vaccination began. In 1796 you can enter the garden shed where Edward Jenner vaccinated his gardener’s eight-year-old son with the world’s first vaccine. This is the beginning of the science that helped the global fight against the Kovid-19 epidemic.
Before the Pandemic, the house was the third most popular home in the village (after the medieval castle and a farm where Edward II was killed). After Kovid, she may become a major international attraction.
How do vaccines work?
Visitors can see the candle-lit office behind the staircase, where Jenner’s scientific notes and drawings are wrapped in a terry-textured fabric, on her circular table drawn with ivory pen.
It was here that he used the word “vaccine”. The wall has a contemporary oil painting of Blossom the Cow. She was very central to his experiments, and Jenner used the Latin word “word” for “cow” to describe what he found: vaccination.
Blossom is a large brown dairy cow from Gloucester, the source of the original cowpox infection that was used to create the world’s first vaccines.
The story is heroic in its simplicity. Legend has it that Jenner was deeply concerned about the local outbreak of smallpox, one of the most dangerous viruses facing humans, with a 30% mortality rate and a horrendous permanent appearance of survivors. In the courtyard near its garden are the tombs of many contemporary victims.
A dairy worker reportedly told Jenner that she was not worried about catching smallpox – because she had already contracted a very mild “cowpox” from cows. The local dairy farmers knew that smallpox would never come to anyone who got cowpox.
At the time, the medical profession was trying to understand the emerging vaccination theories. It involved injecting a single dose of a real disease at “chickenpox parties” as it does today — parents deliberately collecting children to infect at an early age to ensure immunity from later cases, which may be far-reaching. Consequences. More serious.
Early inoculators injected the entire disease into young and strong patients, in the hope that they would survive and later gain immunity.
Jenner was inspired to find a better solution: a harmless but effective vaccine to boost immunity. He speculated that if he gave people light cowpox, it would encourage some sort of internal security system to protect people from smallpox.
This was a revolutionary idea at a time when acacia and mercury purifiers were still in use. No one knew anything about the immune system. In many ways, Jenner was centuries ahead of her time.
His first patient, James Phillips – the gardener’s eight-year-old son – did not know he had come forward voluntarily, or knew what he was doing, but Jenner took his contribution seriously.
The boy survived the process, became immune to the deadly disease that was spreading in the area, and proved a theory that could save millions of lives.
Jenner thanked the world for giving James a home. Visitors can walk from Jenner’s house through the wooded path, and now see Phipps Cottage, a private home marked with a sign in Church Lane.
In one corner of his own garden, Jenner named the shed where James was stabbed “the temple of vaccinia” and considered himself the “faithful priest of vaccination”.
Surprisingly, this particular structure of stone, bark, and straw still exists. It may become a refuge for millions of people who have been vaccinated against many diseases, including smallpox (now thanks to vaccines), polio, and of course Kovid.
As news of Jenner’s miraculous treatment for smallpox spread, lines of poor farm workers stretched from the shed to the cemetery. Jenner applied life-saving doses for free, declaring that profiting from them was “immoral.”
Looking at his flute, poetry books, and cuckoo paintings, visitors can not escape the impression that Jenner, the eighth son of the Vicar of Berkeley, was a man of good curiosity and open-mindedness of a curious Georgian period.
For example, he met his future wife when he accidentally dropped his hot air balloon in her garden.
Capabley Brown, a famous English gardener and landscape architect of the 18th century, secretly took a vine sapling to plant in his greenhouse at Hampton Court, which is now completely overgrown with vines.
As might be expected, Jenner was ridiculed by wealthy London “specialist” doctors for failing to believe that a country doctor had made such an important breakthrough.
People who injected contemporary satirical cartoons were shown turning into cows. They were the world’s first vaccines against the new science.
It took some time for the dominant system to understand the meaning of their actions. In 1858, Parliament erected a statue of Jenner in Trafalgar Square – but after anti – vaccination protests, it was moved to Kensington Garden four years later.
The private charitable fund run by the museum almost shut down when the isolation measures imposed by the Kovid-19 pandemic wiped out its revenue.
“We threatened to lose revenue indefinitely,” says Owen Gower, the museum manager who is the only full-time employee.
An hasty online crowdfunding campaign has caught the attention of philanthropists around the world, raising more than ,000 40,000 in donations. It was enough to keep the house open.
There are still many anti-vaccine activists out there, but the importance of doses against covid reminds Jenner more and more.
“We were impressed by the generosity of people around the world,” Gower said.
“Personal donations are still coming in. This has allowed us to plan for the future.”
“Emphasizes the importance of pandemic vaccination. We not only want to update exhibitions and renovate homes – we want to expand our educational program and have an international online presence.”
The Foundation has no government funding and relies on ticket sales. The house and garden are maintained by a team of 35 local volunteers. Part of the residence has been rented out as a private apartment to generate income. In it, Drs. Including Jenner’s old bedroom.
The success of crowdfunding has strengthened the faith of the rulers to rethink the future of humble historical attractions. Now she can hire consultants and approach major sponsors.
“We can do a lot with that money,” says Govan, who graduated in history from Berkeley.
“Crowdfunding was remarkable, but we can not rely on individual donations forever. Now we need to find the best funders.”
Future plans include creating an international center for the development of vaccination theory.
Museum Administrator Gabriela Swafield sees a bright future for the site.
“In five years, it will be a thriving museum that welcomes visitors from around the world to tell the important story of the beginning of vaccination and its pioneer founder, Edward Jenner.”
Swufffield, manager of the museum at London’s historic Charter House, joined the Jenner’s Trust in June 2020 at the height of the epidemic.
“It seemed like the right time to consolidate my passion for museums and spread the important message of vaccinology,” she said.
“The museum deserves more recognition. It’s a fascinating museum with beautiful gardens, and in recent years it tells an incredible story that has affected everyone in one way or another.”
As the world began to realize how important Jenner’s invention was, congratulations began to flow. Although he never profited from the vaccine, he valued some feedback more than any financial reward.
Then US President Thomas Jefferson wrote directly to Jenner in 1806, “Mankind will never forget that you lived.”
Gower and Berkeley residents are trying to make sure it never happens.
Musicaholic. Twitter guru. Total bacon fanatic. Zombie ninja. Freelance student. Coffee fan. Gamer.