Eyam and 17th Century Plague

Time required – 60 minutes

The wife of Eyam's incumbent Preist, laying a wreath of red flowers on the tomb of Catherine Mompesson
Every year, on the last Sunday in August, the wife of Eyam's incumbent Priest, lays a wreath of red flowers on the tomb of Catherine Mompesson who succumbed to the Bubonic Plague.

This haunting presentation tells the story of a secluded Derbyshire village and the terrible plague, which killed approximately half the population between 1665 and 1666.

The buildings in this rather private place are perhaps the most poignant monument to a catastrophe that devastated Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. Listeners will hear a blow by blow account of the impact, which Bubonic Plague had on the cottagers after September 1665; they will hear a description of its arrival, probably via a delivery of second-hand clothing, and be given the most likely route, which the Great Pestilence took as it tore the heart out of the God-fearing community.

The sheer horror and magnitude of the outbreak is considered in detail. Particular attention is paid to the role undertaken by the clergyman William Mompesson and to the heroic actions of the community that decided to shut itself away in order to prevent the spread of plague to other towns and cities. The likely extent of this self-imposed quarantine will be discussed.

The presentation will look at mortality rates and see moving images of the stones, memorials and traditions that have survived from the days when Eyam suffered its terrible fate in silence.

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