September Heritage Weekend

via wikipedia
Edward Jenner (1749 – 1823)
Heritage weekends take place once a year across the European Union, normally it is the second weekend in September. For the uninitiated, it is a time when buildings, monuments, parklands, and gardens, normally closed to the public, open their doors with free access. Some specialised museums that charge an entry fee suspend any payment. We decided to visit to the home of Dr. Edward Jenner, the pioneer of smallpox vaccination, and the father of immunology, an immense medical breakthrough which has saved countless lives. By 1980 vaccination had wiped out this devasting and disfiguring disease from the world.

courtesy wikipedia

courtesy wikipedia

Sitting within the shadows of the great walls of Berkeley Castle, whose origins date back to the 11th century, Jenner’s house also lies close to the River Severn in the county of Gloucestershire.

The image below clearly shows what a dreadful scourge Smallpox was, and how, if the victim did survive, they would be scarred for life.

Blossom’s horn lying on the desk in Jenner’s study

A cow called Blossom infected a local milkmaid with Cowpox through contact with it’s udder. Jenner extracted liquid from the Cowpox pustule on the milkmaid’s arm in order to carry out his first vaccination on the 8 year old son of his gardener.

In this little garden hut, which Jenner called his Temple to Vaccinia, he vaccinated the poor of the district free of charge. Quite often the queues stretched from the garden to the centre of Berkeley town. The hut is Grade II* listed, an 18th century small building of stone under a thatched roof. It has recently been re-thatched, the stonework re-pointed and new leaded light windows installed.


  1. “Heritage weekends”? How civilized. On this side of the lake, at least in Oregon, there’s something similar, but so watered down it’s non-existent: If someone has a home on the listing of historical places, part of the deal involves opening it to the public one day a year. The specific day is up to the owner, and there’s no requirement to publicize it.

    1. The Heritage weekends have been established here and in other countries throughout Europe for many years now. Every county in the UK has a good selection of places that anyone can visit without payment.
      I remember being on holiday in Arles, France, during September one year, and we were able to visit their Roman Amphitheatre and Musée Réattu housed in the old Commandery of the knights of Malta free, normally only accessible by payment.

  2. Rosemary, I love your choice. Jenner’s home looks a real find: Temple of Vaccinia: he must have had a real medic’s sense of humour….and what a legacy he left the world!

    1. Kate – can you imagine how awful it must have been to be covered in those awful smallpox, just one on the arm can be bad enough following vaccination.

      1. and think of the ethics of that first vaccination: ‘let’s try out my theory on the gardener’s lad’…. such a bold move! And one that obviously was so worth it, we can see in retrospect.

      2. It just doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

  3. It certainly would not pass the ethics committee today – it was a brave move on his part.

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