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Eyam is an attractive village, but earns its magnetism for tourists mainly from an association with the plague of London.
It was in one of the houses near the church now known as Plague Cottages, that in September 1665 the village tailor took delivery of a box of cloths from London that were contaminated with bubonic plague germs. The deadly disease spread rapidly through the village and the people panicked and prepared to leave. But their parson William Mompesson encouraged them to stay, bravely isolating themselves from the outside world, in order to prevent the disease spreading across the county. Their only contact with the outside was the payment for essential goods. Supplies were left at the parish boundary and the payment placed in small holes, cut in boulders, filled with vinegar to disinfect the money.
The brave villagers paid a high price for their courage for out of a total of some 350 inhabitants 259 died. Many of the village cottages now display the details of the original occupants who perished from the disease so long ago.
One of our early nursery rhymes has a special association with Eyam: "Ring a ring of roses A pocketful of posies Atishoo Atishoo We all fall down" A ring of roses (a rash on the chest) was the first sign of the plague, the posies relate to fragrant flowers that were used to cover the smell of the infection and sneezing was the final stage of the illness before death.
Despite the many reminders of its sad past Eyam emerges as one of the Peak districts more pleasing villages. The ancient tradition of well dressing thought to have originated from Pagan times is still practiced here. Well Dressing is a mosaic picture, built up from natural materials (flower petals, seeds, grasses, leaves, tree bark, berries and moss) pressed into a 1 inch base of puddled clay, which is held within a wooden frame.
Eyam village is situated off the A623, 5 miles north of Bakewell.