Saturday, 9 April 2016

A walk in the Peak - Eyam

     
       I’ve been meaning to write this post for a fair while now but, you know how it is……’time and unforeseen occurrence’......
       Anyway, having been dragged away from the computer by a group of friends recently, I joined them for a walk in Eyam, a quaint little village in the heart of Derbyshire’s Hope Valley where I learned some fascinating facts for all you history buffs.    



       Eyam (pronounced E’em) has quite a history, dating back at least as far as the Romans who discovered a rich vein of lead in the area.  The village was recorded in the Domesday Book under its olde English name, Aium – and would have remained an attractive yet obscure hamlet but for a shocking, heartrending disaster 6 centuries later.

'Black Death' illustration courtesy of  TheMiddleAges.net
       
       In 1665 the Bubonic Plague (aka Black Death), already raging in London, arrived in a bundle of cloth infested with fleas.  The first victim, the local tailor’s assistant George Vickers who took delivery, died within a week of contracting the disease that was already spreading like wildfire throughout the village. 
       Attempting to contain the infection, the village rector Reverend William Mompesson and Puritan minister Thomas Stanley, drew up an emergency plan of action, which called for supreme sacrifice from the residents.  Bodies were to be buried by their own families, church services were relocated to a natural amphitheatre in Cucklett Delph, and, most famously, the entire population agreed to be quarantined, cordoning themselves off in order to protect neighbouring communities. 
       For 14 months, the plague decimated the village, causing at least 260 deaths. The exact figure is unknown, although, according to one account, only 83 people survived out of a population of 350. 
       These survivors were later thought to have had exceptional immune systems, which according to one research programme, were passed down to their descendants...some of whom are thought to be resistant to HIV/AIDS!*
       
Rose Cottage, home of the Hawkesworth family

One of many plaques relating to plague victims
       
       Today, Eyam is a thriving tourist centre, populated mainly by well-heeled stalwarts of St Lawrence’s, the parish church. 

St Lawrence's Church, Eyam

       Architecturally and geographically, little has changed since the 17th century. Most of the buildings in the centre of the village have remained intact, frozen in time for curious visitors. 


       Even the stocks remain, ready to punish the drunk and disorderly!


      Our walk took us past Eyam Hall and the local Museum (sadly shut at the time!).....


.......through the village square with its dainty tea room, to the Miners Arms public house, which has quite a history of its own. (See Plaque) 

Miners Arms, Eyam


       From here, we strolled up a steep lane towards open country where we met a herd of llamas looking beautifully snug with their amazingly soft coats.....enough wool for a few hundred pashminas, no doubt!


The views were spectacular......  

View of Eyam
 ....with bags of stile!

Stile and signpost to Mompesson's Well

  ....although the going got tough occasionally!



*http://www.aboutderbyshire.co.uk/cms/11/sensational-aids-cure-fou.shtml
http://www.peakdistrictinformation.com/towns/eyam.php

4 comments:

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  4. We went to Eyam when we were last in the Peak District, and I remember going there many years ago. It is quite evocative and thought-provoking that people would make such a sacrifice. I bought a novel based on the story. A good well-written and interesting blog.

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