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Eyam Plague Sunday

Each year on the last Sunday in August, the village of Eyam in Derbyshire holds a unique memorial service to commemorate the victims of the Great Plague and the villagers heroic sacrifice at the time. In 1665 it is thought that a bolt of cloth, imported from London by a local tailor, arrived riddled with fleas and one by one the villagers of Eyam began to die. Rather than run the risk of spreading the contagion to neighbouring villages, the rector, William Mompesson and his wife Catherine, gathered the people together and managed to persuade them not to flee. They effectively quarantined themselves even though they knew it would mean death for many of them. Relatives and friends were told to leave food and supplies at parish stones. Money was left in small troughs filled with vinegar in the hope of sterilising the coins. Over 14 months three quarters of the population died before the infection burnt itself out. Several books, poems and plays have been written about the events that took place in Eyam and this month the museum's director went to ask the current Vicar, the Reverend Andrew Montgomery, if he would be willing to take part in a video piece for a museum display about the events for 2012. The meeting was favourable and discussions have now begun and details will be posted later.