Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Something Unexpected in Jenner’s Garden

Dr Stuart Prior, of TV fame, from the University of Bristol will be talking about the many finds and history revealed from the Berkeley Project dig of 2009. While searching for conclusive evidence of an Anglo-Saxon nunnery a pit possibly holding Edward Jenner’s rubbish was found at the end of the garden of the 300 year old Chantry. This and other discoveries will be shared with the public on Thursday 25th March in Berkeley.


There have been archaeological digs at the Edward Jenner Museum since 2005 when the museum granted the University of Bristol permission to conduct their search for Saxon Berkeley within the grounds. As part of the Berkeley Project, a possible Anglo-Saxon church near St Mary’s Church Tower which borders the museum garden has been uncovered. If the remains of Anglo-Saxon buildings in the garden can be linked to it, and they turn out to be part of the Anglo-Saxon nunnery then it will prove to be the earliest nunnery excavated and put Berkeley on the world map again.


Dr Prior, a former gravedigger, is the fieldwork director for the Berkeley Project. Viewers of Time Team will recognise him as the larger than life biker-archaeologist with an infectious enthusiasm for his subject as well as other appearances on the National Geographic channel.


Sarah Parker, the Museum Director said: It has been really fascinating to see the Anglo-Saxon world beneath our lawn emerge in the last couple of years. We look forward to this year’s dig with increasing excitement. The discovery of Jenner’s rubbish pit is of course of special interest to us providing a tangible link with the his life here.


Organised by The Edward Jenner Museum, the Old Cyder House Talks have proved to be very popular, so much so that they have been extended beyond the original March end date to become year round.  Dr Prior’s talk will cost £10 per person including a glass of wine and starts at 7.30pm

More information can be found on the museum website, www.jennermuseum.com where there is also information on hiring The Old Cyder House and about other events at the Museum. Bookings for all the talks can be made in advance by calling 01453 810631 or emailing info@edwardjenner.co.uk


- ENDS -



THE OLD CYDER HOUSE, Berkeley, Gloucestershire



1) The Old Cyder House is at Dr Edward Jenner’s former home, The Chantry, in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Dr Jenner lived in the house from 1785-1823, and it was from here that he pioneered the world-changing vaccination against Smallpox.


The Old Cyder House is available for training, conferences, business meetings, product launches and exhibitions throughout the year and is situated in the Old Coach House, where cider was originally brewed, hence the name.


2) Doctor Stuart Prior, the biker-archaeologist, is a teaching fellow in the Department of Archaeology & Anthropology, Bristol University, and the Fieldwork Director for the Berkeley Castle Project. Stuart.Prior@bristol.ac.uk


Ticketing details/costs & further information, please see: www.jennermuseum.com


General information and booking: info@edwardjenner.co.uk


For further information, interviews or image requests please contact:


Sarah Parker



Email: director@edwardjenner.co.uk


Tel:      01453 810 631

Fax:      01453 811 690


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Sunday, 7 March 2010

Being Pushed Around in a Haunted Attic

I've just come back from a really fascinating and interesting experience, attending my first organised paranormal investigation. The venue was The Chantry, Berkeley in Gloucestershire: a 300 year old building and former home of Dr Edward Jenner. But this site has more to do with history than just the good doctor. It has been in turn (possibly) a Roman villa, a nunnery, burial ground, scene of a Viking attack and Civil War battlefield. Quite a lot of potential there for meeting spirits and that ignores any possibility of meeting the Witch of Berkeley and the dreaded flesh eating Berkeley Toad.
We gathered at 9pm for a briefing and introduction to our medium and host for the night, Craig and Claire respectively. A number of the group had been on such investigations before and knew what to expect but there were a sprinkling of sceptics, those on the fence about supernatural activity, and the believers.
We started with meditation and a group exercise (I usually hate these) to demonstrate how we can feel natural energy around us and so identify when something supernatural maybe happening. Even this simple exercise of "sharing energy" with someone else was worth the trip alone, as we held hands over each other.s in turn and could feel the energy between our palms - even squashing and bouncing the energy. Very weird.
Then it was into The Chantry for a history lesson to set the scene for the group, Craig was left in the "base room" so he would not hear what was said, so we could check his facts later if he made contact with various spirits. As part of the tour was in the garden at nearly 10pm and it was rapidly dropping below zero and frost forming everywhere this was an event for hardy souls.........
We then went back to the base room for a warming coffee and Jaffa cake before heading back to The Chantry with Craig and this time all the lights off. Exploring a familiar building (as I have worked there for some time) in torch light instantly made it far more interesting, especially as Craig started picking up on things straightaway. I won't be able to remember everything that was said between then and 3am, and I don't want to spoil a visit you might make, but will try to summarise. We knew ourselves that there were recorded instances of "ghosts" but had not told Craig or Claire. Craig picked up on a spirit (a ghost is a simple apparition and can't be communicated with, a spirit one can communicate with) who was annoyed that we were in his house. This turned out to be one of Edward Jenner's descendants and he followed us around for the rest of the night. Later a spirit of a dog was discovered, even sitting on a couple of people's feet.
We went up to the Attic, the most atmospheric part of The Chantry, and here had some of our most interesting experiences, one of which influenced the title of this blog. Before we conducted a seance, we used dowsing rods, crystals and EMF electronic readers to see if we could find anything in the Attic. My EMF reader suddenly went haywire with lights and sounds whizzing off the scale - witnessed by Craig who once he'd checked I was using the meter correctly nodded and said "that's pretty cool!". After these experiments we gathered for a seance.
We made contact with a four year old child, with red hair, called Jonathan. He knew his mother, was slightly afraid of her, but didn't know who his father was: we don't have any record of such a child but he may be in a census somewhere of the servants. We all stood in a circle (well, a very squashed circle as there was no room!) holding hands and invited the spirits to make contact. We had a few small "taps" and something small was thrown behind me. I should mention here that I was standing in a doorway (with my back to it) and so you can imagine my "delight" when Craig and Claire both said that there was lots of movement behind me. My neck had been tingling for sometime but I was putting this down to autosuggestion until the spirit was invited to come into the circle. At this point I felt myself being gently pushed forward, it was very gentle, but insistent and it made me rock forward on my feet, I put it down to me simply swaying but when I tried to return to upright there was this pushing again. Claire, next to me said "Tim is trying to rationalise being pushed by a spirit!" as she was being pushed froward to. I can only describe it as if someone was holding a mattress against me, upright, then pushing slowly but with intent. I could feel the energy we'd been shown earlier in our group exercise.
I didn't find this frightening, just immensely curious and fascinating, then it stopped and someone on the opposite side of the room was pushed, and so it went on. We were told that it was Jonathan, the four year old, running around the Attic and pushing us for fun - those "sensitives" who could see/sense him said he was really enjoying it, chuckling and singing "Ring a Ring of Roses". I felt absurdly pleased that we were being the source of so much fun for a four year old spirit at just gone midnight in a deserted Attic. This went on for a few minutes until the spirits of Robert and Henry Jenner appeared in turn (at which point Jonathan ran off). They were far sterner and not so pleased at us invading the Attic and their home.
Next we went down to the old bedrooms, where children crying in a room identified as the nursery earlier, but the unpleasant fact here was the sensitives picked up on Jenner's family, wife and children, dying of TB. Very sobering. We spent some time siting in the dark and communicating with a spirit seemingly through the alarm sensor, he making it flash in the dark. We had to take each other's word that none of us were waving are arms around. However no one disputed the footsteps and tapping heard outside the shut door, on the landing. As I was closest to the door I was the one nominated to open it and look out - I have to admit this was the scariest part of the evening for me, opening a door onto the unknown, having listened to footsteps just outside in an empty house, what would I see? As it turned out not a thing......so was that good or a bad, what had made the noises?
After some more contact we returned to the base room for more coffee. It was now 2am and we only had an hour left, so we decoded to try the downstairs rooms with table and glass. I found this bit really fascinating, talking to the spirits through the movement of a glass, held by 4/5 people with their fingers on it. Having seen this on TV I'd always cynically assumed that it was being controlled by those touching it. But watching the glass move around the table and twisting at the same time it was obviously physically impossible for those "directing" it to twist it too. We asked some historical questions of the spirits, Robert and Henry Jenner, and they seemed to answer correctly - perhaps we could find out much more of the unknown history of The Chantry this way?
As we drew to the end of the evening, the spirits seemed to be increasingly more interested in us and even started picking favourites and poking fun at individuals. Finally at 3am when we had to go, they indicated they'd be pleased to see us again.......maybe.
At the end of the evening I have to say I'd enjoyed it very much. Do I think the existence of ghosts and spirits had been proved? I don't know. I know that the pushing force I had on me acted on my entire body quite unbidden, the tappings sounded genuine, not random creaks and information coming from the spirits was often confirmed through the knowledge of the museum staff. If Craig had "swotted up" on the Jenner family history he would have had to have spent weeks looking into great detail to come up with some of the answers he shared with us. On top of this I've had one or two unexplained things happen to me in the building before, when on my own.
I leave therefore with an open mind. When I''m up in the Attic next (hopefully in daylight....) I'll think about Jonathan and perhaps even sense his little mischievous presence, I'll watch out for the dog pushing past me on the stairs and the stern descendants of Jenner who are unsure about these invaders in "their house".
Would I recommend it - without doubt! It is a must try experience and I thoroughly endorse it as a fun and bizarre evening. I'd like to try The Chantry again and see what else comes up. But a word of caution, don't expect to get much done the following morning, I wasn't in bed until 4.30am!
My thanks to our excellent hosts Craig and Claire of Haunted Happenings who ran the event, I'm sure The Chantry will open its doors again one night soon for the spirits to make contact once again, if they are in the mood!
Keep looking at www.jennermuseum.com for information.

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Tuesday, 2 March 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Things that go Bump in the Night

*** Press Release ***

Edward Jenner Museum

Immediate Release


Things that go Bump in the Night

This weekend sees the first overnight paranormal investigation at the Edward Jenner Museum, Berkeley, with a small group of intrepid explorers investigating the claims made by past inhabitants that the 300 year old Chantry is haunted. In conjunction with Haunted Happenings who are running the event, high on the agenda will be spending time in the only recently opened Attic Rooms, the old servants quarters of the building which have remained largely undisturbed for decades, where a possible ghost photograph was taken last year.

In The Chantry’s three centuries of history there have been reports of all sorts of strange goings on, from spectral figures heading into Dr Jenner’s Study to a phantom dog running up and down the stairs. Interest resurfaced after BBC photographer Chris Sands took what appeared to be a ghost picture up in the newly opened Attic Rooms in 2009. Apart from the main building’s age and history the grounds have seen much too, from a Viking burning of the Anglo-Saxon nunnery (the remains of which can currently be seen in the garden) to Civil War battles, the evidence of which is still found today with musket balls and other finds.

Visitors to the Haunted Happenings event on Saturday 6th March will have the opportunity to visit several haunted spots within the house and grounds of Dr Edward Jenner’s former home, have the history of the site explained to them, take part in vigils and séances and get involved with paranormal experiments throughout the night.

Sarah Parker, Director of the Museum said This will be the first proper paranormal investigation of The Chantry. We have been criticised as a science museum for even mentioning ghosts, but there is nothing in science to disprove them! We look forward to the investigation with great interest.

The event runs from 9pm to 3am and must be pre-booked in advance: spaces are limited. To book go to www.hauntedhappenings.co.uk


** Ends **




Notes to Editors:

The Chantry is home to The Edward Jenner Museum, pioneer of smallpox vaccination, and opens for the 2010 season on 1st April.

See www.jennermuseum.co.uk


The Ghost Event is being run by Haunted Happenings who run ghost events throughout the UK, all bookings and questions about the event should be directed to them

See www.hauntedhappenings.co.uk




For further information, interviews and images please contact:

Tim Davies of Copper Phoenix  www.copperphoenix.co.uk

E:            tim@copperphoenix.co.uk

T/M:      07919 914512



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