A house of God in the heart of town

MBTC-03-10-12- Panacea Museum. Newnham Rd, Bedford.
MBTC-03-10-12- Panacea Museum. Newnham Rd, Bedford.

A museum dedicated to Bedford’s Panacea Society opened its doors for the first time this week, and the Times & Citizen was there for a private tour.

9 Newnham Road is the home of the Panacea Museum, which tells the story of the Panacea Charitable Trust, formerly known as the Panacea Society.

MBTC-03-10-12- Panacea Museum. Newnham Rd, Bedford.

MBTC-03-10-12- Panacea Museum. Newnham Rd, Bedford.

The group was founded in 1919, although its history goes back to the 1790s.

The museum will be open to the public for one day in November, and then at regular intervals from spring next year, although visitors will need to book in advance.

The Panacea Society was well-known across the UK for many years because of The Box, which members had wanted opened as part of their beliefs.

Calls to open The Box were advertised by the Society on buses, in newspapers, in leaflets and as part of public speaking tours, until the 1990s.

MBTC-03-10-12- Panacea Museum. Newnham Rd, Bedford.

MBTC-03-10-12- Panacea Museum. Newnham Rd, Bedford.

And it became such a well-known part of popular culture that it was part of a Monty Python sketch, the topic of a 1927 spoof by Cambridge University students, and numerous hoaxes including two separate hoax openings in 1925.

It has been in Bedford since 1957.

Visitors can also learn about the history of the Society, including the various conditions for opening The Box, members’ dress code and rules of circumcision, and the belief in ‘Shiloh’ who would prepare mankind for the arrival of the Second Coming.

There are also videos, information about the healing, and the original bedrooms, bathrooms, meetings rooms and chapel of the members and those that were set aside for Bishops from the Church Of England.