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Any tourist visiting the beautiful village of Eyam for the first time, not knowing of its tragic history, rapidly becomes aware by reading the plaques on the walls of buildings. The people of this village once endured an epic struggle. In a period of only just over 12 months, from September 1665, 260 people died from the plague out of a population of about 800.   

The plague started when George Vicars, a tailor, was lodging in one of the cottages next to the church. A packet of cloth arrived, but as it was damp after its long journey from London, he spread it out in front of the fire to dry. This released fleas concealed in the parcel, which were carriers of bubonic plague germs. The death of George Vicars was sudden, others soon followed, and the villagers started to panic. 

Some families fled, but as the disease seemed to be abating during the winter others remained, only for the plague to intensify during the following spring. The Rector of Eyam, William Mompesson and his predecessor Rev Thomas Stanley persuaded the villagers to accept strict quarantine arrangements to prevent the spread of the disease. Neighbouring villages left provisions at agreed pick-up points. Church services were held in Cucklet Delph, where worship could be conducted in the open air to reduce the chance of infection. 

When the plague finally was over, whole families had been wiped out and only one sixth of the population remained in Eyam. The plague had been contained within the agreed boundary set by the people of Eyam, but at a dreadful cost. 

The church is dedicated to St Lawrence and has been used for worship since Norman times. In the churchyard is a Celtic cross well over 1,000 years old, probably once used as a preaching cross. Close by is the tomb of Catherine Mompesson, who bravely stayed with her husband during the plague, but did not survive the epidemic. Only a few other plague victims are buried in the churchyard; as the plague took hold they agreed to bury the dead close to where they died to contain the infection. 

At the end of August each year Eyam Wakes and Well Dressings, take place. A Plague Commemoration Service takes place on the Sunday and the following Saturday there is a carnival and sheep roast. 

Eyam Feature


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At the end of August each year Eyam Wakes and Well Dressings, take place. A Plague Commemoration Service takes place on the Sunday and the following Saturday there is a carnival and sheep roast. 



Eyam Hall (Tel. 01433 631976) a fascinating 17th century manor house that has been the home of the Wright family for over 300 years. For further information website:


Eyam Hall Craft Centre (Tel. 01433 631976) a working craft centre situated in the old farm buildings to the hall. Restaurant and gift shop. Open every day 10.30-4.30pm except Mondays.


Eyam Museum (Tel. 01433 631371) tells the dramatic story of the bubonic plague outbreak that so decimated the inhabitants of the village in 1665/6. Local geology, archaeology and social and industrial development are all covered in this excellent little museum. For further information website:




Provides a wide range of features  with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.


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