Eyam - The Plague Village
A story of self-sacrifice.
Eyam is a beautiful village in Derbyshire. It found its place in history in 1665 when a flea-infested bundle of cloth arrived from London at the local tailor’s address, that being a Mr Alexander Hadfield. Fleas are disease spreaders carrying the Bubonic Plague or Black Death. The disease is transmitted between Black Rats and fleas, biting humans, who quickly succumb to the disease.
Alexander’s assistant, George Viccars, opened the bundle, and within a short while, he was dead. Worse was to come. Members of George’s household also began to get ill and die. The plague was now unleashed, and many deaths were to follow.
The villagers turned to their rector, the Reverend William Mompesson and the ejected Puritan minister Thomas Stanley. They introduced measures to stop the spread of the plague amongst themselves and indeed throughout Derbyshire.
Families were to bury their own dead, church services were held outside at a natural amphitheatre, Cucklett Delph. One of the most well known preventive measures taught to English school children was the decision to quarantine the entire village. Supplies for the village were delivered by merchants from other villages, leaving the goods on marked rocks. The villagers then made holes in those rocks, which they would fill with vinegar to disinfect money that was left as payment.
The plague lasted for 14 months. The death toll was high, with one account stating that out of a population of 350, 260 lost their lives. Another account places the population at around 800, with 273 deaths. The church in Eyam has a record of those 273 individuals.
In my YouTube video tour lists, you will see some of those villagers who died on signs outside the homes where they lived. If you have not done so, please subscribe to my channel, Roland’s Travels.
Thank you for watching my video and reading this account. I hope you will join me on my travels as I share them with you here on YouTube.