Friday, 24 July 2015

Eyam, the plague village

Have you ever heard of Eyam? It's a village in Derbyshire, known as the plague village, because in the year 1665, the villagers made the conscious decision to isolate themselves so that they wouldn't spread the bubonic plague to anyone else in England.

It arrived innocently enough, in a bale of cloth ordered by George Vicars, the local tailor. The cloth was damp, so he spread it out in front of the fire to dry, allowing the fleas within to be released. They were carriers of the plague, and soon, inevitably it claimed its victims. Within a year, hundreds of people in this small village died.

You would think such a tragedy would permeate everything and that you'd be able to feel the pain in the air and in the brickwork, but you can't. You only feel it in the stark words you read. You imagine it, sitting in the church and passing the cottages of the doomed villagers.
Looks idyllic doesn't it, the romantically named Rose Cottage? Don't be fooled. Nine members of the Thorpe family lived here. They all died. And look, here's what happened to their next door neighbours.
It feels somewhat ghoulish to be posting this, but it's such a memorable part of our history. Who doesn't know about the bubonic plague? Even children's nursery rhymes commemorate what happened.
Mexican embroidered dress accessorised with bags from Em and Krista, because I couldn't decide
And actually for their courage and fortitude in such appalling circumstances, the villagers of Eyam deserve to be remembered forever more.
The villagers who succumbed to the plague weren't buried in the graveyard, instead each family was responsible for its own. The women dragged their husbands and children out into the fields surrounding the village and laid them to rest. Even when life is at its toughest for me, it's never THAT bad. I really want to do one of the walks to pay my respects.
Eyam hall and gardens
Sorry this is such a depressing post. It wasn't meant to be. Eyam is the prettiest little village and Eyam Hall is a lovely Jacobean building filled with treasures from eleven generations of the same family, which means it has that lovely higgledy piggledy patchwork eclectic feel. The family lived there up until really quite recently and left all their stuff there, although they did have the good grace to take their Ikea furniture with them. I can't imagine a Billy CD rack would be quite the thing with all those beautiful flagstone floors and amazing wide floor boards.
Anyway, we had fun, mooching around and finishing up with a picnic. I hope there will be more to come this summer. It's more than half way through July and I feel like I'm only just getting started. Life has been like a juggernaut crashing down a mountain these last few months. I do apologise for neglecting you all. It's not my intention, I just think I need a pause button every now and again.
The village stocks. It wasn't me! Or was it?

I have to finish up with this classic photo of the family pets from Eyam Hall. What song do you reckon they're singing? Answers on a postcard blog comment, please!