Visiting Bedford this week with a couple of friends, we investigated the Panacea museum. It’s a curious set of houses with a very unusual history. A religious community lived here; they were aligned to the Church of England but their beliefs were unconventional to say the least.
Believing in the imminent second coming of Christ they revered their eighth prophet, Octavia who they ,and thousands worldwide, believed could heal all sorts of ailments, hence the panacea name. They mailed small squares of linen on which Octavia had breathed that the recipient added to a jug of water and then drunk or washed with.
There were various other beliefs; do have a look at the website if interested. The museum has many fascinating displays and a very helpful gentleman answered our many questions, both practical and spiritual.
My 86 is among the plot numbers displayed in the museum in an area of Bedford where, I think, the community members bought properties .
The museum itself is beautifully maintained and re-created. There is a tiny chapel, plus various bedrooms, including a representative bedroom and dining room that the society had in readiness to accommodate the 24 bishops they had invited to open an infamous box of prophecies. Another strange tale.