Edward Jenner’s lost microscope

The whereabouts of a microscope believed to have been given to Edward Jenner by James Parkinson is being sought by staff at Dr Jenner’s House, Museum and Garden in Berkeley following a talk given by Dr Cherry Lewis.

Dissecting microscope

© Christopher Gardner-Thorpe

Georgian scientist Parkinson’s name has gone down in history. In 1817 he was the first person to describe what is now known as Parkinson’s disease. However Parkinson was also a surgeon, geologist, palaeontologist and political activist. As a medic, he was a keen supporter of the new practice of vaccination and worked with Edward Jenner to introduce it to London.

Microscope inscription

© Christopher Gardner-Thorpe

Whilst carrying out research for her book The Enlightened Mr Parkinson, Dr Lewis came across a photograph taken in the 1980s by neurologist Dr Christopher Gardner-Thorpe depicting a dissecting microscope which had been shown to him by a Gloucestershire doctor. The story attached to this particular microscope was that it had once belonged to Jenner and had been a gift from Parkinson.

The name of the doctor has been lost to history, but staff at the museum hope the microscope is still in the county and are already following up on some suggestions given after Dr Lewis’s talk at the museum in April.

Owen Gower, Museum Manager said:

Jenner, Parkinson and their contemporaries made so many exciting discoveries during this period and these continue to benefit us today. Jenner’s microscope is a tangible representation of both the friendship between these two scientists and of their remarkable achievements. We would love to know if it’s still in the county.

Staff at the museum would be delighted to talk to anyone with information about the microscope and can be contacted on 01453 810631 or info@edwardjenner.co.uk.

Virtual reality representation of Jenner's Dining Room

The Chantry

Throughout the past year we’ve been telling you about our involvement in the REVEAL Project where, amongst many other things, we’ve been carrying out painstaking research to understand the layout and contents of the house at the time of Jenner’s death in 1823 in order to create a 3D virtual reality game.

Ahead of the release of The Chantry on the PlayStation®VR platform later this year, we wanted to show you some of the differences between the rooms now and how we believe they may have looked two hundred years ago using screenshots from the game.

The room we now call the Drawing Room is currently used for exhibitions:

An exhibition room in Dr Jenner's House

In The Chantry it is transformed into Jenner’s Dining Room:

Virtual reality representation of Jenner's Dining Room

© Sheffield Hallam University Enterprises Ltd./The Jenner Trust

An upstairs exhibition room tells the story of the eradication of smallpox:

An modern exhibition room

In The Chantry it is restored to its use as the bedroom of Jenner’s younger son, Robert Fitzhardinge Jenner:

A bedroom recreated in virtual reality

© Sheffield Hallam University Enterprises Ltd./The Jenner Trust

Perhaps most striking of all is the change from museum shop:

A museum shop

To the Breakfast Room, the hub of family life:

A breakfast room recreated in virtual reality

© Sheffield Hallam University Enterprises Ltd./The Jenner Trust

And there’s so much more to discover in the game itself! We are really excited about our involvement in this project as we believe this could be the first time that an historic property has been recreated in a virtual reality game. We hope that it will bring Jenner’s story to life in a new way for people across the world.

We’ll be offering our visitors a chance to try it out very soon and it will also be available on the PlayStation®Store. Please keep checking our website and @DrJennersHouse for more information.

flag_yellow_lowThe REVEAL Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Number 732599.

“PlayStation” is a registered trademark of Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. “PS4” and PlayStation VR are trademarks of the same company. All titles, content, publisher names, trademarks, artwork, and associated imagery are trademarks and/or copyright material of their respective owners. All rights reserved.

REVEAL Project Update

It has now been over a year since we first started working on the REVEAL Project. In this blog post, Owen Gower, our Museum Manager, reflects on what we have learnt about Jenner’s house over the past year.

At the end of December 2017, staff at the museum entered Edward Jenner’s house for the first time in 194 years. Virtually, at least! Since January 2017 we’ve been working with game designers, educators and cultural heritage professionals from across Europe on the REVEAL Project, which has received funding under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. REVEAL aims to explore the use of educational virtual reality games in the cultural heritage sector and Dr Jenner’s House has served as the first case study in the project. After twelve months of closely working with our partners at Sheffield Hallam University, we had our first chance to see a complete and playable game at the end of last year.

The Chantry is a game based around a reconstruction of Jenner’s house at the time of his death in 1823. To achieve this, staff at the museum have spent time going through archival (at the museum and elsewhere) and published sources (style guides and secondary material), and have turned detective looking around the building to find clues of its past use. This has changed our understanding of many of the rooms; the room we now call the Dining Room, for example, was almost certainly Jenner’s Drawing Room (and vice versa). It was great to see the rooms full of furniture in the playable game and feeling like Jenner could walk in at any moment.

Drawing Room

Early artwork depicting the Drawing Room.

We’re looking forward to being able to share The Chantry with our visitors and with gamers worldwide, but in the meantime here’s a snippet of the game for you to enjoy:

You can find out more about the REVEAL Project here. In 2018 we’ll be taking The Chantry on the road and will also be previewing it at the museum. For more details on this and all Dr Jenner’s House happenings, please sign up to our newsletter.

flag_yellow_lowThe REVEAL Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Number 732599.

Cold volunteers at Dr Jenner's House

Boiler Update

Thanks to all of you for your support so far with our campaign to replace the museum’s ancient boiler. With nearly 50% of the funds raised we decided to press ahead with the boiler works, which commenced yesterday. With hopes for a busy half term opening next week and concerns about tumbling temperatures, we really had to act quickly. We still need your help to raise the remaining £4,500, as without this our finances will be stretched and we will have to divert funds away from our other work to celebrate the life of Edward Jenner. Please continue to tell others about our campaign!

Donate Now

Or you can send a cheque (payable to “The Jenner Trust”) to Dr Jenner’s House, Church Lane, Berkeley, GL13 9BN. For more information about supporting us, please click here.

A Great Westerner

We are delighted that Edward Jenner has been selected as one of the top 50 “Great Westerners”, following a competition run by Trinity Mirror newspapers and the rail company, GWR. These top 50 Great Westerners are to have one of GWR’s new railway locomotives named after them, so the name Edward Jenner will become even more familiar across the South West.

Dr Timothy Wallington, Chair of The Jenner Trust said:

“It is entirely fitting that Edward Jenner has been honoured amongst the many visionary individuals this region has produced. His painstaking work in understanding the machinery of disease, which has had one of the most significant humanitarian impacts of all time in overcoming smallpox, is an inspiring example to us all.”

The new Class 800 Intercity Express Trains, built by Hitachi, were launched on 16 October and will be rolled out across the GWR network over the course of the next year.

Cold volunteers at Dr Jenner's House

Cold Weather Blues

We need your help to protect Dr Jenner’s House, Museum and Garden and ensure it can open to visitors this winter.

We urgently need to raise in the region of £8,500 to replace the central heating boiler in Edward Jenner’s former home, following the demise of our old system: a museum piece in itself! Central heating is vital to help us regulate the humidity inside the house, keeping safe this internationally important building and its collections. Without a new boiler, this landmark building will be at risk, as will our work sharing Jenner’s remarkable legacy and providing all manner of activities for the local community.

Donate Now

Or you can send a cheque (payable to “The Jenner Trust”) to Dr Jenner’s House, Church Lane, Berkeley, GL13 9BN. For more information about supporting us, please click here.

With your help we can continue to preserve Dr Jenner’s House for many winters to come.

An Irreplaceable Building

We’re celebrating again this week after learning that the Temple of Vaccinia was chosen by Historic England for Irreplaceable: A History of England in 100 Places, sponsored by Ecclesiastical.

The building, located in the grounds of the museum, was one of ten locations in the Science and Discovery category chosen by Professor Lord Robert Winston from a shortlist of public nominations. Originally designed by Jenner’s friend Robert Ferryman as a summer house, the rustic building was repurposed by Jenner as a location to freely distribute his new vaccine against smallpox, one of the most feared diseases of its time. Jenner’s research, which demonstrated that deliberate infection with the mild disease cowpox could prevent people from catching smallpox, was published in 1798 and less than 200 years later smallpox was declared eradicated.

You can hear more about all ten locations in the Science and Discovery category on Historic England’s podcast, which features our Museum Manager.

Design our 2017 Christmas Card!

Ever fancied seeing your artwork decorating mantelpieces up and down the land? Well, now’s your chance. We’re looking for someone to design the front of our 2017 Christmas card.

To enter, send your original design in JPEG format to info@edwardjenner.co.uk. This must be your own work but can be in any medium: digital, watercolour, acrylic or otherwise. Designs should fit in a square measuring 148mm x 148mm (14.8cm, 5.82 inch). The competition closes at 23:59 on Sunday 29th October, so get those creative caps on.

By entering this contest, you are confirming you accept the Terms & Conditions of entry.

Volunteers win Marsh Award

We are very pleased to announce that our volunteer team are the South West regional winners of the prestigious Marsh Volunteer Awards.

The awards, which recognise the hugely valuable contribution volunteers make in helping museums engage with their visitors, are organised by the British Museum and the Marsh Christian Trust and are now in their ninth year.

There were a large number of applications from across the UK, some from groups of volunteers and some from individuals. Volunteers at Dr Jenner’s House, Museum and Garden were praised for their contributions across all areas of the museum’s work, from delivering attic tours to visitors, fundraising on the museum’s behalf, and designing and building the museum’s Physic Garden. We were able to celebrate their achievements in a special ceremony at the British Museum where Brian Marsh OBE, Chairman of the Marsh Christian Trust, and Sir Richard Lambert, Chairman of the British Museum, presented them with their award.

In addition to the twelve regional winners, the ‘Never Going Underground’ Volunteer Community Curators at People’s History Museum, Manchester, and the Scruton Station Volunteers Team, Wensleydale Railway Association Trust, North Yorkshire were named as joint national winners. A huge congratulations to all of the winners; we were treated to some incredibly inspiring stories during the awards ceremony.

We now hope that others will join the team so we can achieve even greater things over the coming years. There will be a special open day for people to find out about volunteer opportunities at the museum and meet current volunteers on 26 October from 10:00 until 16:00. Anyone interested in attending can find out more by emailing info@edwardjenner.co.uk or calling the Museum Office on 01453 810631.

Help us to uncover the history of Dr Jenner’s House

In 2017 we embarked upon a year of discovery at Dr Jenner’s House, Museum and Garden. As part of the EU-funded REVEAL Project, we are attempting to reconstruct (through the wonders of virtual reality technology) the fabric of The Chantry as it was at the time of Jenner’s death.

The project has already vexed us and challenged everything we thought we knew about the building. Windows and doors have moved, rooms have changed use, staircases have been diverted…! However we are making good progress and look forward to sharing the fruits of our research very soon.

First, we have one significant challenge to overcome. With limited sources and very little of the original fabric of the building remaining we are struggling to identify how Jenner would have decorated his walls. This is where we need your help! We have found three fragments of wallpaper in the house. One hidden behind coat hooks in a downstairs passageway and the other two decorating the former servants’ quarters in the attics. We believe the latter fragments were off-cuts from elsewhere in the house.

We’re very keen to identify these fragments. Most importantly, are they likely to date from Jenner’s time in the house or from later occupants? If they are of the period, do they come from recognisable patterns? And which rooms might they have originally decorated?

If you think you can help us out, or point us in the right direction, please email info@edwardjenner.co.uk. We’d be delighted to hear from you!