Eyam Stories and Tips

Visit the Plague Village

The Buttery, Eyam Hall Photo, Eyam, England

The village of Eyam is called the Plague Village. In 1665, during an outbreak of bubonic plague, the disease spread to this village, probably in the fleas that were with a shipment of cloth. People started dying quickly but the parson realized what was going on and he organized the villagers. They isolated themselves, quarantined themselves and to avoid starving to death, arranged for outsiders to leave supplies at the border of the village, leaving money disinfected in vinegar in payment. They took other precautions as well and as a result, the plague didn't spread beyond the village though nearly 80% of Eyam perished over the next year.

The village is off the main road and is surrounded by the lovely hills and trees of the Peaks. The houses and buildings are all made of honey coloured stone. Even new development uses the same type or colour of material to match. We drove there in about an hour or so and walked around the hilly narrow streets to look at sights like the old stocks on the village green, the church and graveyard. There's a wonderful old 8th century celtic/Saxon cross by the church too, worn down with age. It wasn't there originally, but was moved there from outside the village at some point.

There is the Eyam Hall although it was closed to visitors. I think it only opens up a few times a year. We had lunch in the Buttery, which is in a courtyard by the Hall along with some craft shops and studios. We wandered down into the centre of the village where there is a pub and a few shops. It's all very pretty. We did try to drive just out of the town to find the Riley Graves where one woman buried six children and her husband but it wasn't sign posted or we missed it and drove out too far. We also tried to find the stone and well at the outskirts of the village where they left the money for their supplies and missed that too!

We also went into the little Eyam museum near the car park when we arrived. It's mainly storyboards telling the tales and detailing the history of the plague and victims. There are also some artifacts and antiques and was a good introduction to the area. You can also see the cottages on the main road where the plague first hit, there are three in a row with signs out front. People still live in all these houses. It must be odd for them to look out the window and see people taking photos of their house.

There isn't a whole lot to see and do though it's definitely an interesting place to visit. See the church and cross and explore the cemetery, learn about the effects and history of the plague and the aftermath in the little museum and visit the Hall if it's open. Have a drink in the Miner's Arms or a light meal in the Buttery. There may also be a tea room in the village centre as well.

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