Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Eyam dream.

Why that title ‘Eyam dream’? Well, it’s to demonstrate how to properly pronounce the name of the plague village. Some say ee-yum, some say eeee-yamm, but the residents pronounce it to rhyme with ‘dream;, so there you are.
Of course, being a walker and living in Bakewell for the past seven years, I’ve been to Eyam many, many times before. I thought I knew the story but after reading ‘Year of wonders’ by Geraldine Brooks (ISBN: 9781841154589), my interest was really fired up. It wasn’t a book I thought would be for me, but after Sue read it on holiday, she urged me to ‘give it a go’, and I’m really glad I did. Even if you’re not interested in the Eyam thing, it’s still a very good book.
Anyway, in a nutshell, Eyam is called the plague village because, in 1665 the plague was brought to Eyam from London in a roll of damp cloth by a tailor. The result was 260 people died, more than double the mortality rate in the capital. These people, through the leadership of a relatively young man called William Mompesson, cut themselves off from the outside world to suffer their fate without infecting the whole area around them (Bakewell being a very busy nearby market town).

This is the poignant picture on ‘Year of wonders’, depicting Elizabeth Hancock, who lost her husband and SIX children in the space of eight days!

As I said, we had visited Eyam many times, but this time we were determined to see all the high points mentioned in the book.
For all our visits, we had never visited Cucklet delph and the Cucklet ‘church’.
Through the gate, and back in time........

At the time we went, the wild garlic was in flower, and its heavy aroma filled the air in the delph.

At the top of the climb up the delph, we saw the sign to the ‘church’ where, after deciding the closeness of the village church was too dangerous, Mompesson took to preaching to his flock there, who were able to stand a ‘safe’ distance apart from each other to listen.

The sense of history and tragedy you get when you stand here in Mompesson’s footsteps is eerie.
To think, over 250 years ago, this one man was able to convince his flock to be so altruistic as to stay put while the plague raged among them.

His voice would ring through these rocks.
A memorial service is held here every year to remember the victims of the plague.

After exploring the ‘church’, we made our way to the village to see the real thing.
On the village green, the stocks still survive, albeit unused.

The beautiful stone troughs near the Eyam museum.

Again, passed many times, but never visited by us, the museum was next on the tick list.
The rat carried the plague fleas, and this is the wind vane on top of the museum alluding to that.

It really brings it home how very tragic this was when you see the names in list form – so LONG!

The Wilson family were particularly badly affected.

Not sure if I’d want to live here with this reputation and name hanging over the place.

Walking towards the church, we passed the ‘revolving, roasting jack’ that is part of Eyams tradition.
This is something I’ve never been to, but always wanted to.

The parish church at Eyam, dating back to circa 1150, an imposing structure.

The ‘plague window’, depicting scenes from the pestilence.

The actual record book with the hand written names of all the victims.

In the graveyard, this Saxon cross is famous as a good example.

I always love this Sun dial clock.

The grave of Mompesson's’ wife, Catherine.

A perfect view, looking back as we make our way to the Riley graves, where Elizabeth Hancock buried her family.

We noticed this ‘armoured car’ on the walk.

The rhododendrons were putting on a good show.

The wild flowers were too, not to be outdone.

People buried their dead where they could, the dignity of a church burial long since gone.

Across a stile, we could see the Riley graves (so called because that’s Riley house on the far side of the field, where Elizabeth Hancock lived).

Again, a solemn and eerie place.

Next we wanted to visit the Mompesson’s well, a short walk uphill and across town.

The views of the edges and Higger Tor were particularly good today.

Here it is, the well, where food and supplies were left.
The other drop-off place was the boundary stone above Stony Middleton.

Naturally, after the well, the boundary stone was next.
You can see the holes drilled in it for people to place their coins. The holes would be filled with vinegar to ‘disinfect’ them.
This system seemed to work, and kept the villagers supplied during their ordeal.

I’m sure THESE guys weren’t around during the time of the plague – llamas in a field.

A superb show of buttercups was also in evidence.

As it was ‘that time of the year’, we knew the orchids would be out in Cressbrook dale, so we capped off our day with a visit there.
We weren’t disappointed, it was, as usual here, a really good show.

You can read more on the Eyam museum website here;