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!


Fiona said...

'Who let the dogs out'???

Not depressing at all Tanya. Eyam looks delightful, its plague history deserves to be known and its former residents should be admired and respected for their bravery and civic duty. Hope we (and you)get more trips out and about this summer. Don't work too hard love.

Miss Magpie said...

What beautiful pictures I want to be there now not stuck in my office with rain lashing down outside! Have you read Year of Wonders? It's based very loosely on what happened at Eyam. I really enjoyed it.

mondoagogo said...

You're the third or fourth blogger I've read who's been to Eyam this summer! As for whether it's depressing, these things happened such a long time ago, and no one gets depressed that people died at home all the time in most pre-20th century houses. Granted, it wasn't usually the plague killing the entire village, but there were plenty of other disease epidemics killing communities off -- cholera, typhoid, dissentry, malaria etc -- and there are some places in the world where those diseases are still active, which is more depressing to me than something that happened 350 years ago... It does looks like an interesting place to visit though!

Anonymous said...

I do remember Etam from school and am happy to have now visited it with you! How terrible it must have been just waiting it out and how brave that they decided to isolate themselves for so long to try to stop the plague spreading.
You look beautiful in your dress bursting with colour.
Hope that you are enjoying your much needed break and relishing just getting to do what you want . Xxxx

Curtise said...

Eyam is just down the road from me, and I've been several times. It's a lovely village, isn't it? I don't find the history of what happened there during the plague depressing - yes, it's a sad and tragic tale but sort of inspiring in terms of how the village dealt with the situation too. Did you walk out to the Hancock family graves?
All that gorgeous warm stone is so appealing, and you look a vision in your colourful Mexican frock. You certainly didn't deserve to be put in the stocks!
Like Gisela, I recommend Year of Wonders for a fictionalised version of the Eyam story.
Life - it's full on at the moment, no? I am managing about one blog post a week, work is playing havoc with my schedule! But it's delightful to see you, Tan, whenever you pop up looking delightful and showing us where you have been on your travels. Where to next then? xxx

Curtise said...

Ooh, forgot the song. Hounds of Love, of course! X

Sue said...

What beautiful photos you have just shared. I love it when people take me on a visit somewhere with them via their camera, so THANKS! History is important and not at all depressing, it is valuable information. This history just happened to be very picturesque. Ok so I think the dogs are singing 'who let the dogs out...woof, woof, woof'. Where are you taking me next??

Anonymous said...

Is it 'Hound Dog'?! Xxxx

Connie said...

I don't think this is depressing at all. History is almost always sad. Everybody is dead! I'm sure people will look back on us one day and talk about how sad and hard our lives were. We had to cook our own food and walk places. Imagine! But what a pretty village. You had me Googling "Plague" for almost an hour! Did you steal somebody's heart? Is that why they locked you up? And I imagine the dogs are singing something from Gilbert and Sullivan. They look like an old fashioned pair of howlers.

Vix said...

We drove past Eyam on the way to Buxton the other day and I cheerfully shouted "Plague" at the top of my voice.
It looks beautiufl despite the horrid history and no, you weren't depressing in the slightest.
Your dress and double bagging are fabulous - I hope Q didn't pelt you with rotten tomatoes, though.
I hope life isn't too taxing and there's a break on the horizon somewhere for you. xxx

Vix said...

PS I Wanna Be Your Dog.

Helga said...

I find that morbid stuff fascinating! I'd love a pokie about at Eyam.
And you are right, I can't imagine anything as bad as that hideous plague time.
Hmmm, those sweet puppies are probably singing a Wham song.
You are such a fox. Love! XXXXXXXXX