A Visit to the Plague Village

I didn’t do a lot of travelling this year, but one place I stayed was totally on-brand for 2020: Eyam, the plague village. I picked this as an overnight stop on the White to Dark Trail, and only later remembered why the village was famous.

In 1665, some flea-infested cloth arrived in the town and people began to get sick. Precautions were taken, such as moving church services outdoors, and making families bury their own dead – which puts the current situation into a bleak sort of perspective. Eventually Eyam put itself into quarantine and local merchants delivered supplies to marked rocks. Holes had been made in these rocks and filled with vinegar to disinfect the money left in payment. The plague lasted over 14 months killing more than half the villagers.

The plague is marked by an annual event, but the 2020 Plague Sunday ceremonies were cancelled due to covid. We passed through the village the following month. Eyam is scenic, and the history makes it a popular stop for coach tours. It’s fair to say that Eyam has made the best of their connection to the plague history. The village is filed with weirdly jaunty signs describing the horrors that happened there. Ironically, Covid meant that the plague museum was shut.

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