The Panacea Charitable Trust (PCT) was known as the Panacea Society until its name change in 2012
The origins of the Panacea Society can be traced back to a series of letters (now located in the Panacea Charitable Trust’s archives) written between four middle-class women living separate lives, brought together through a common interest in the life and message of the 18th century prophetess, Joanna Southcott, against a backdrop of very traditional Church of England Christian views. These communications commenced in 1913. The four women were Mabel Barltrop, Rachael Fox, Helen Exeter, and Kate Firth. Each was interested in the message Joanna Southcott had sent out over one hundred years before, and each felt the world’s troubles would be overcome if only the Bishops of the Church of England would consent to open Joanna Southcott’s sealed box of prophecies.
Throughout the Great War period these four women corresponded with each other extensively, discussing aspects of prophecy and revelation and believing their interest to be divinely inspired. Mabel eventually emerged as the prominent member of the group as the others identified her as both Shiloh (the child whose appearance was foretold by Joanna over a century ago), and as Octavia, the eighth prophet of the Visitation and the Divine Daughter of God.
From these early beginnings the group continued to grow in numbers, attracting other like-minded women through word of mouth, correspondence, and regular meetings. In 1920 the group attempted to place themselves on a more formal footing, calling themselves “The Community of the Holy Ghost”, although little appears to have changed with that idea other than establishing Memorandum and Articles of Association which attempted to formalise their mission. The early 1920’s saw the numbers of believers in Octavia as the eighth prophet increase, as more people were drawn to this newly emerging community based in Bedford.