Gloucester
Berkeley
Gloucestershire GL13

 

 

 

Berkeley (pronounced Bark-lee) is an unremarkable little town with a big history. Situated on a low sandstone spur, it lies in the Vale of Berkeley between the east bank of the River Severn and the M5 motorway.

It is a quiet, unassuming little country town lying in the shadow of its much more infamous castle where King Edward II was allegedly murdered with a red hot poker. What is of more importance and of worldwide significance is that Berkeley is the birthplace of Edward Jenner (1749-1823), the discoverer of immunology and vaccination as a cure for disease.

Smallpox Vaccine
The son of a local vicar, Jenner went off to London to train as a doctor. He returned home to work as the local doctor. In 1796, realising that milkmaids didn't catch smallpox, he performed a pioneering experiment by inoculating his gardener's son James Phipps with cowpox, thus preventing infection from smallpox. This clever man’s pioneering work has lead to the worldwide eradication of smallpox.
 
His former home is close to the centre of town and is now the Edward Jenner Museum (Dr Jenner's House & Garden) which houses not only exhibits of Jenner’s life but on immunology as a whole. Dr Jenner is buried in St Mary's Church, Berkeley next door to the Castle. He is in illustrious company for this ancient church is filled with effigies and tombs of the Earls of Berkeley and their relatives.
 
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Berkeley Castle
First erected in 1117, it is now mostly 14th century having been remodelled in the 1350s. The castle has been in the hands of the Berkeley family for over 900 years and has seen many historic events. The castle houses many fine collections of ceramics, paintings and silverware acquired by the family over the generations as well as national treasures such as Sir Francis Drake's cabin chest; the castle's archive has over 20000 documents dating back to the early 12th century. Fine gardens surround the castle.
 
Winding through the countryside surrounding the castle and town is the Little Avon River which flows into the River Severn at Berkeley Pill. It was tidal and navigable as far as Berkeley making the town an important port. Modern day weirs and sluice gates have turned this little river’s water meadows into rich agricultural farmland.
 
With the impressive castle, St Mary’s Church as well as the Dr Jenner's museum, there is a lot to enjoy in Berkeley.
 
Tourist Information
 
Getting There
- By Car:   Berkeley is located mid-way between Bristol and Gloucester, just two miles (3.22 km) west of the busy A38 trunk road.
 
- By Bus:  There are also several bus services running to and from the town.
 
- By Rail:  Bristol to Gloucester main line. Nearest station is now Cam and Dursley - 5 miles (8 km). For service times and costs, go to  Web:  National Rail Enquiries
 
Google Maps - Berkeley Gloucestershire