September Heritage Weekend
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.
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.