The lovely village of Eyam lies in the heart of the Peak District National Park. The village comprises of it own ancient market hall, medieval church and even its own set of stocks. (Visit the Eyam Village website.)
Eyam also know as the ‘Plague Village’, a reference to the catastrophic events of 1665 – 1666. The disaster began in September 1665 when a box of cloth from plague-ridden London was delivered to a travelling tailor lodging in the village – within days he was dead.
Further victims quickly followed but the young rector, William Mompesson, persuaded the villagers to stay and quarantine themselves from the outside world rather than flee and risk spreading the infection. The villagers paid a terrible price for their restraint: of its 350 inhabitants before the plague struck, less than 100 survived after the plague finally subsided in October 1666. Despite the dreadful death toll, there were no funerals – the families buried their dead hastily in crofts and gardens.
The gruesome, yet inspirational story is told in Eyam Museum. Many of the houses where the plague struck still stand and plaques give the names and ages of the victims.
Saint Lawrence’s Church in Eyam is of the 14th century and has Saxon remains prior to that date. In the churchyard is an Anglo-Saxon cross in Mercian style dated to the 8th century, it was moved there from its original location beside a moorland cart track.
Eyam Hall is a fascinating place to visit. It is currently leased and managed by the National Trust and was opened to the public in March 2013. It is closed on Mondays. The green opposite has an ancient set of village stocks reputedly used to punish the locals for minor crimes