Eyam is perhaps best known
for its selfless decision to self-isolate in order to prevent the spread
of the plague.
In 1665, the bubonic
plague reached Eyam, a small, lead-mining village. In an attempt to
halt the onward spread of the contagion, the villagers volunteered to
quarantine themselves. They were successful; no-one in the surrounding
area was infected by the villagers. However, they paid a terrible
price. By the summer of 1666, when the plague lifted, almost three
hundred had died, three-quarters of the population. Entire families lie
together in strangely intimate walled enclosures dotted around the
village as victims were buried, not in the churchyard, but in their own
fields or gardens. On the boundaries of the village lie large stones
with holes drilled out, in which the villagers placed coins in pools of
vinegar in payment for goods which were deposited in their absence,
rather like the on-line grocery deliveries of 2020.
Each year on the last Sunday
in August, a memorial service is held in the outdoor "church" where the
villagers had gathered centuries earlier (at a discrete social
However, there is a lot more
to Eyam than its plague history, although don't let that stop you buying
the photo book on the publications page.
A beautiful place
surrounded by equally lovely countryside.