‘Garden of Eden’ in Bedford hosts international conference on threats to society

Panacea Society dancing 1928
Panacea Society dancing 1928

A religious society formed in Bedford in 1919 is to host a conference examining apocalyptic threats.

Mabel Barltrop formed The Panacea Society in Albany Road, planting the seeds of a legacy that would later examine the existential threats of the 21st century world.

The last member of the reclusive community died in 2012 leaving property and assets which under the guidance of modern day trustees now houses a museum telling the fascinating Panacea story and venue for a newly created Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (CenSAMM).

The first of three 2017 international conferences will take place on Monday, April 6 and Tuesday, in what the Panacea Society believed was the original Garden of Eden in the middle of Bedford.

The subject is Violence and Millenarian Movements (“millenarian” is a belief in a coming supernatural transformation of society) and will bring together experts in theology, anthropology, geography and social sciences.

Project director Simon Robinson said: “It is hoped that over two days of presentations and debate we can gain insight into what motivates some religious and political movements to commit acts of terror and in the coming conferences to archive, for future researchers, contemporary thought about big issues and the apocalyptic thinking that seems to be increasing around us.”

Attendance to the conference is free to the public and will include presentations by Stuart A. Wright, professor of sociology and expert on the Branch Davidians from Lamar University, Texas, and Rob Gleave, professor of Arabic studies from the University of Exeter.

Other conferences in 2017 will focus on climate and the Reformation.

To find out more about this and other CenSAMM conferences and to reserve free seats visit www.censamm.org