Historic site: Eyam during the Great Plague

Historic Site: Eyam during the Great Plague

  • Eyam: A small village in Derbyshire, England, that played a significant role during the Great Plague in 1665-1666.

Eyam’s Choice

  • Decision to quarantine: Village leaders, led by rector William Mompesson, made the decision to quarantine the entire village to prevent the Plague from spreading to neighbouring areas.
  • Boundary stones: Villagers established a boundary around Eyam, marked with stones, that no one was permitted to cross.
  • Sacrifice: The quarantine decision was a great sacrifice for villagers, accepting the likelihood of death to protect others.

Living with the Plague

  • ‘Plague cottages’: Some houses, where plague victims lived and died, still stand in Eyam today, marked with plaques naming those who died there.
  • Transmission: The Plague in Eyam is believed to have arrived in a bundle of flea-infested cloth sent from London.
  • Death toll: The Plague claimed the lives of at least 260 Eyam villagers, roughly 75% of its population.

Money, Food and Communication

  • Food and supplies: To prevent starvation, neighbouring villages began to leave food and other necessary supplies at the boundary stones.
  • Payment: Eyam villagers left money in vinegar-filled holes in the boundary stones, using vinegar in an attempt to disinfect the coins and prevent the spread of the Plague.


  • End of Plague: The Plague finally left Eyam in November 1666.
  • Legacy: Eyam is often hailed as a ‘heroic’ village. It serves as an example of sacrifice, societal responsibility, and community solidarity during a major health crisis.
  • Current Eyam: Today, Eyam is a key site to visit as it provides tangible historical links to the time of the Great Plague. It runs an annual commemoration of the Plague.