Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Eyam

While COVID19 currently spreads like wildfire across the UK, there is probably nowhere more appropriate to visit than the Derbyshire village of Eyam.

In 1665, bubonic plague was ravaging the population of London. In Eyam, a tailor ordered some cloth from London. A week after its arrival, people started dying: the cloth had been carrying the bacterium (plague is not a virus), and it quickly spread through the village.

The local rector, William Mompesson, encouraged the village to quarantine themselves to avoid infecting the rest of Derbyshire. For the following year, nobody went in or out of the village. Food was left for the villagers at a boundary stone, with coins left disinfecting in vinegar for its payment.

Two thirds of the villagers died, but they managed to prevent the illness from spreading. A very relevant story for today.