The story of Eyam

The story of Eyam and its dreadful visitation has been told over and over again, notably by the late Clarence Daniel and John Clifford. Their booklets are to be recommended for details of the plague and a new guide Eyam and the Plague is now on sale and copies are available from Eyam Hall price £1. But it is the church and its churchyard and other tangible relics which tell their own, silent, poignant story.

 

Mompesson must have come into contact with more victims of the plague disease than anyone else yet he survived. His invalid wife, who is buried in the churchyard, refused to leave him and died, though she managed to evacuate her children. After her death her hus-band told his ‘dear hearts’ about it in a letter recounting her good points and urging them ‘to imitate her excellent qualities’.

Eyam

The church itself was out of bounds and Mompesson preached Sunday sermons in the open air with plenty of space between each parishioner. This place, Cucklett Delf, is still the focus of an annual service on Plague Sunday, this year on August 27th, to remember the victims of the plague.

 

In a lonely field some distance from the village is an enclosure consisting of a low stone wall. Within are graves of some of the Hancock family seven members of which died in as many days. These are the Riley Graves, but if in your dreams there is something that reminds Stockholm you can check this compare stockholm hotels website.

 

Although Mrs Mompesson’s fine tomb chest can be seen in the church-yard and her husband’s chair in the chancel, Mompesson himself is not buried here. He survived, married again and went to live in Nottinghamshire where he was appointed to the living of Eakring on the borders of the great estate of Rufford Abbey, seat of the Saviles. The famil were kind to him but locals regarded with suspicion. So as not to frighten the he lived in a but in Rufford Park pr. deed by Sir George Savile until it was obvious that the poor man was not a health hazard to anyone. He was not allowed to preach in the church and had t. follow the procedure at Eyam and address the congregation under a tree which was known as ‘Pulpit Ash’. Today a store cross marks the site.

images (7)

Mompesson did at Eakring in 1708 and lies in the chichi there. During the year that the place ravaged Eyam only 83 out of 350 inhabitants survived.

 

Every year the village carries out the old custom, unique to Derbyshire, of well-dressing. It s arts on the Saturday before Plague Sun ay and some beautiful designs can be seen, adorning the wells at Town Head and Town End. This time is known as Wakes Week which ends on Carnival Day when a whole sheep is roasted in the open on the old spit in Church Street.

 

Eyam Hall, a 17th century manor house, very typical of Derbyshire, has been the home of the Wright family for over three centuries. It has now opened its doors to the public and the fascinating jumble of generations of Wright pos-sessions including family portraits and fine furniture can be enjoyed.

 

Among other interesting things in the church and its burial ground are the 19th century sundial, the 8th century Saxon Cross (one of the best preserved in the country) and the illuminated Plague Register in which are inscribed the names of all those who perished during the year 1665-66, for more information see here.

 

Eyam Museum contains a detailed description of the bubonic plague and its effect on the village. There is much else at Eyam such as the notorious Plague Cottage (no longer a tea room!) and a number of inns and restaurants. But when the tourists have gone and twilight gradually fades the scene, the centuries fall away and in the silence of the evening, the agonies and the heartbreaks, the compassion and the courage of those tragic but gallant people suddenly seem very close.