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Dr Jenner's House

On the 24th March 2023 we visited the Edward Jenner Museum in Berkeley. We were also lucky enough to receive a talk on Jenner from our tutor, Gareth Williams, who is an expert on the subject. The museum is in Edward Jenner’s house, where he created the first vaccination clinic, which is found in the garden of the property, called the Temple of Vaccinia. 

Jenner is often called the ‘father of immunology’. Jenner noted that milkmaids were immune to smallpox, which he hypothesised was due to the fact that the blisters that milkmaids received from cowpox enabled them to be protected from smallpox. Jenner tested this on his gardener’s 8-year-old son, by deliberately infecting him with cowpox. From the Latin word Variolae vaccinae, which meant cowpox, this new practice came to be known as vaccination. Jenner devoted his life to sharing this practice, offering the vaccination for free to all those who needed it; there were often queues of people waiting to be vaccinated outside his Temple of Vaccinia. 

But Jenner’s success was not without its hurdles. His work was shunned by some in the Church, who believed Jenner was interfering with God’s will, and his paper seems to have been rejected by the Royal Society.  In 1798, he published it himself.


We owe a great deal to Jenner’s courage and determination. Vaccination is solely responsible for the eradication of smallpox, declared complete in 1980 by the 33rd World Health Assembly, and the significant worldwide reduction in cases of diseases like polio and tetanus. He remains an important figure in the history of medical progress.

'No human being who has ever lived has saved more lives in history than the simple country doctor from Gloucestershire.' — Andrew Marr

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