The Temple of Vaccinia is perhaps one of the most radical buildings in the history of public health. Edward Jenner (1749-1823), recognising that he could only fulfil his ambition to see the world free from smallpox by making vaccination free of charge to those who needed it most, turned this rustic thatched summerhouse into the world's first free vaccination clinic. Every Sunday after church he would welcome unvaccinated local residents into his garden, using cowpox fluid to protect them against smallpox but also reassuring them and answering any questions they might have. Watching Jenner carrying out vaccination in 1804, W J Joyce observed “the Doctor very well understands the art of dealing with their prejudices and it gave me great pleasure to observe the gentle and effectual manner with which he endeavoured to soothe their mind”.
BBC Travel called the Temple of Vaccinia "Britain's miraculous, life-saving garden shed". Historic England say it's one of the top ten places to tell the story of science and discovery in England. To win Shed of the Year would be the real crowning glory!
Originally designed as a summerhouse by Jenner's friend Rev Robert Ferryman, the Temple of Vaccinia was built sometime in the late 1790s to early 1800s and intended to be the focal point of a garden in the Picturesque style. The roof is thatched, and the walls are built of stone and decorated with tree bark. The original decor also included an ornate tree bark ceiling and fireplace surround. The building was restored in 2011 with a grant from Country Houses Foundation.