Eyam: The Original Lockdown Village

Whilst on my travels in the Peak District I made a quick detour via Eyam village a.k.a the ‘Plague Village’, which seemed rather apt a place to make a visit in 2020, annus Covidis.

The story goes that, in 1665, the bubonic plague arrived in Eyam from London, via a bundle of infected cloth. As Eyam folk dropped like flies, the Reverend Mompesson imposed a lockdown on the village that lasted for 14 months in order to arrest the spread of the disease to neighbouring communities. Although almost three quarters of the population succumbed, the quarantine was successful in containing the plague to the confines of Eyam.

It’s a charming village around which to wander, despite it’s somewhat infamous claim to fame.

The Church of St. Lawrence dates to the 14th century and was partially rebuilt in 1619. However, the beautiful Anglo-Saxon stone cross in the churchyard dates back to the 8th century!

Adjacent to the cross, there’s a square stone sundial dated 1775, inscribed at the top ‘INDUCE ANIMUM SAPIENTEM’, which, calling upon my very rudimentary grasp of Latin (thanks to Miss Lucas circa 1990) means something like ‘introduce wisdom to the mind’ [readers, please feel free to offer an informed translation!]. I was devoid of wisdom as I stood for about ten minutes marvelling at its very clever construction.

I made a brief perusal of a few of the headstones in the graveyard, and found this – nothing to do the plague – but what a brilliant epitaph for the former Derbyshire and MCC player, Harry Bagshaw…

For when the one great scorer comes to write against your name, he writes – not that you won or lost – but how you played the game.