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Panacea Society

Places > Bedford > Charities

The box that contains the answers to the world's problems
'but the Bishops are too proud to open it say the Panacea Society'
by Raymond Bennett

Bedfordshire Times 13th October 1967

LARGE advertisements frequently appear in national newspapers claiming that "crime and banditry will not cease" nor the pressing problems of this country and others be solved and remedied, until "24 Anglican bishops meet together and open Joanna Southcott’s box ". These advertisements appear under the aegis of the Panacea Society.

There are members of this society throughout the world, but the headquarters are in Bedford, where the society own 12 houses in Albany Road, five in Rothsay Road. and two in Newnham Road. They have a picturesque chapel with a clock tower, a beautifully tended garden which runs from Newnham Road to Albany Road.

I was received with every courtesy by the secretary, 82-year-old Mr. Robert Temple, and by the president, but I was allowed only to mention Mr. Temple by name, and asked to stress that the services, which are held in part of the chapel every night and in the full chapel every Sunday, with Holy Communion once a month, are not open to the public but only to members.

There are about 30 members in Bedford. They live in houses owned by the society, worship in the chapel, and work in offices in two of the houses in Albany Road.

There is. I was told, a tremendous response to the society's advertisements. Literature is despatched to inquirers and members all over the world.

The religion of the society is largely that of the "high " Anglican Church of England and members attend services in Anglican churches, but the president and Mr. Temple said: "There are some slight reservations. For instance, the Authorised Bible of James I. A.D. 1611, is accepted by the society as a complete whole with no ‘may be’ about whether miracles really did happen, or whether parts of the aid Testament do, or do not, apply to the Present day,

The society will have nothing to do with the modernist attitude towards Holy Scripture, nor with spiritualism, and the only book of Common Prayer which is used is that of King Edward the Sixth."

The whole aim and object of the Panacea Society is to get 24 Anglican Bishops to meet together an open Joanna Southcott's box. To that end, so far without success, the society have spent many thousands of pounds and are still spending large sums of money.

Joanna Southcott was born in Devonshire in 1750 and died in London in 1814. At the age of 42 she first heard "the voice of the Lord" and for 22 years she dictated "divine messages" to two secretaries. They were published in 65 books.

Before her death the prophetess was "divinely" told not to publish certain of her writings, hut to seal them up and place them in an ark or box. This was done and the box and its contents remained in the hands of friends.

I was not told where the box is today, but assured that if and when 24 bishops agree to be present at its opening, it will be produced.

Mr. Temple and the woman president said: 'The guardian looks upon it as a sacred trust and is under a strict promise to guard it unopened sod only to hand it over to be opened by the 24 bishops'

"The ark has been enclosed in an outer box since Joanna's day for greater safety, and the ark and its covering box weigh 156 lb. It is locked and nailed down with copper nails.

Since 1916 the Panacea Society have brought pressure to bear upon the bishops to open the ark, but history has shown that the priest will never listen to, nor obey the prophet, unless he is compelled to do so."

The leaflet from which our picture of the box was re-printed said that hundreds of sensible people were "at the back of this business" and that when 24 Bishops opened the box in the presence of 24 people in the know England would be proved to be the place in which God would begin to show His goodness to all the world. Things would get worse, however. until the Bishops could be persuaded to 'leave off being so ridiculously proud'

Indeed, only when speaking of the "scorn and contempt of the bishops and priests for the society," did Mr. Temple and the woman president speak with any heat.

I asked how the society was financed, and was told: Members have left legacies and property to the society and subscribe, but we never accept legacies where there are other members of families who might have received them. These we decline.

Page last updated: 22nd January 2014