Posts Tagged ‘Derbyshire’

A wonderful thing about being in England is there is a lot to see and do, from Nottinghamshire it’s a fairly short journey into the Peak District. One of the places on my list was Eyam Village, the plague village as it is also referred to.

Eyam village would have been quite isolated during the period of the plague and our journey by car was very far removed from the foot/horse travel of the day. It is however beautiful and part of the Peak Pilgrimage, its also a working village where people see us tourists coming through every day.

In 1665 Mary Cooper lived with her two sons and a lodger called George Viccars, who was a travelling tailor. She was a widow and was living fairly comfortably. Around march 1665 she had re-married to Alexander Hadfield and his will shows that he was also a tailor. She is also referred to as Mary Hadfeld in his will. Tradition holds it that a box came from London and arrived August/September containing clothes, her husband was away at this period and it seems likely he stayed with non-infected family for the year as he came back and died 12 months later. The box was opened and found to have wet cloth in it, so Viccars hung them to dry and within the week. It is thought that perhaps a flea was in the clothing and this bit him, within another two weeks Mary’s youngest son, Edward, had also died.

It was the start of the outbreak of the plague in Eyam, in more modern studies some suggestions were put forwards such as typhus, anthrax or measles. Anna Seward was the daughter of the village rector saying that in 1757 men of the village had dug up rotten linen materials and three of the men succumbed to a putrid fever, another several villagers also died. Does this support the idea of anthrax? However, it is a generally accepted event of plague that has been given to this time period.

As records show the wealthier people left the village early on, some of the poor also tried. It wasn’t possible for everyone to simply lock up and leave, often their arrival to other places was met with hostility. It’s not solely an Eyam experience but if villagers/townsfolk herd where people were coming from they may well have been driven out too. Sheffield people created barriers and had guards there to stop strangers from entering and possibly bringing infection. This also led to some villagers taking to living in the fields and caves around Eyam Moor, creating makeshift homes to avoid contracting the plague.

October that year gave another 23 listed victims, it included Jonathan Cooper (Mary’s eldest son) and by April 1666 there were 73 deaths, some would have been natural but there was a definite spike to their numbers on the records. A lull in May would have presented a sense of hope and then in June it began again.

The rector, William Mompesson and his wife had sent both their children away, his wife Catherine begged them to go too but William felt a strong sense of duty to remain. William remained there and Catherine stuck by him, this choice came at the cost of her early demise. He was a young rector at 28 years old and his position was also taken up during the point of a fairly tumultuous religious period. Thomas Stanley had returned to the village after his and Shoreland Adams had been forced to leave down to Puritan pressure. Stanley had come back and he was liked in the village, both of them had differing religious views but the one thing they did work on together was what they could do about the plague.

It is known that during the plague period people were forbidden from crossing a stream to go to the local Bakewell market, they would leave their money in the local waters and trade from a distance. This was already in place by the time they had got the stages next taken. The villagers consented to three decisions to try and stop the plague from spreading and to bring it under control.

The first was that they would have no more organised funerals and church burials, the demand was too high and so people were advised to bury their own dead. It meant the clergy could do all the other work surrounding the death and it must have been hard for all involved not to have their dead buried on consecrated grounds, it prevented the highly religious people of the time from meeting their relatives on Judgement Day. Bodies had to be buried fast and they had to be wrapped and under the ground as it was thought it would help to stop the spread too.

A second decision was made to lock up the church until the epidemic was over, services would be held in the open air. How the plague spread seemed confusing and unclear. Contact needed to be kept to a minimum, whilst they wanted to unite and keep to their services the villagers also understood this was necessary. A rock, The Delph, and the open area near it was chosen as the rock could act like a pulpit and to this day an annual Thanksgiving is held there on the last Sunday in August.

The third decision was quarantine, it was to try and stop the spread of disease beyond the village boundaries. It is speculated that the people of Eyam had little choice and viewed as forced heroism but it would only have taken one person to ignore that and get away with the disease for it to have become worse so it seems that they all agreed and kept to it.

The Earl of Devonshire lived in Chatsworth House, he was their chief benefactor and arranged for good and medical supplies to be left at the southern border of Eyam. Any requests for specific items could be left at the boundary stone and paid for there too. Cynically this kept the Earl away from the infection but without him they would have had nothing to sustain them so he was doing something to help the local population. Money was placed in running water or wells, or was sterilised by placing it in holes made in the boundary stones were the money was put into vinegar.

The villagers were isolated but the disease did not spread, all they had to do now was wait and pray. The last death was recorded in either October or 1st November 1666. 1664 showed the consensus with around 160 households (800 population) and by the end an estimated 430 people. The Hearth tax return for 1670 suggests 350 taxed households but does not list exemptions and another suggestion of only 83 survivors seems more plausibly to be 83 households. It would be hard to exact numbers for those who died to the plague too, as an example Jane Hadfield had a baby that died only 2 days after birth, not listed down to plague but not ascertained if it contributed either.

In December 1666 the Christmas period was one of recovery, slowly life was returning to the stricken village and in the summer of 1667 they held a ‘great burning’ to remove all objects etc that might carry any remnants of the plague seed.

There are still recorded outbreaks of the plague today, in 1994 there was an outbreak in India and there have been pockets of cases reported in the USA – be wary of the chipmunks and prairie dogs in some of the larger national parks. The latest listed case on WHO is in Madagascar as of 2017.

If you want a lovely day out in the Peaks and want to learn more you can visit and see a museum as well as all the sign posts around the village. It was, for me anyway, a wonderful day out with a lot to take in

Sources:
Eyam Plague Village 1665-1666 by John Clifford
The Village Museum and boards around the village.
The National Trust
World Health Organisation 

In Sutton Scarsdale sits the Grade 1 listed building, it is located just outside of Chesterfield, Derbyshire in England. It is listed on the English Heritage site with details about being able to visit.

In 1002 the Saxon Estate was passed to Burton-On-Trent Abbey, its owner was formerly a man named Wulfric Scott. In 1225 it went to the Lordship of Sutton-in-the-Dale and passed through numerous hands. In the end Oliver Cromwell’s forces seized the estate and a forfeit of £18,000 was levied and paid for by Leke’s supporters.

The structure there now is perhaps the forth or fifth on the land. In 1724 the 4th Earl of Scarsdale commissioned the building. It was to be designed using parts of the existing structure. It fell into the hands of the Arkwright Family which led it to being left to end up derelict.

November 1919 the derelict estate was brought by local businessmen, who striped its assets, including the roof. In 1946 it was brought by Sir Osbert Sitwell, who wanted to preserve the remaining shell. It has now been left in the care of the English Heritage.

There are rumours of haunts, the smell of tobacco and shadows that lurk in the corners. It is said that Nicholas Leake walks its cold, empty halls. Reports of whispers came from the cellars, but they have long been closed off.

Sutton_Scarsdale_Hall

Eyam is down the road from me, about 50 minute’s drive I’d estimate. So in all honesty I should make an effort to go there but as I write this there’s plenty of snow on the ground and my car’s not built for the country. However I’ll put it on the list and hopefully get there at some point.

Eyam is a village in Derbyshire, England and is famous for being the “plague village”, not to say everyone has it now of course. Back in August 1665 when the plague was found there the residents isolated the village so that the plague could not spread.

The plague was brought in by a flea-infected bundle of cloth, delivered to the tailor George Vicars, from London. Within a week Vicars was dead, he was buried 7th September 1665. After the start of the deaths the people turned to their rector, Reverend William Mompesson and they decided to begin their own precautions.

It was decided that families would bury their own dead, they would also relocate services from the Parish Church of St Lawrence to Cucklett Delph so that villagers would separate themselves more. It was designed to stop the spread, but the more drastic and well-known measure was to quarantine the village entirely to prevent it going elsewhere.

The plague raged on for over a year and around 260 villagers died, 83 survived and the church has a record of 273 individuals at the time that were victims. When the outsiders first started to visit a year or more after they found less than a quarter of it’s former size… Some however seemed to have survive by random chance as there was direct contact to the plague with them.

A rather sorry story is Elizabeth Hancock who never did get sick but buried six of her children and her husband within eight days of one another, these graves are known as the Riley Graves. It is also recorded that Marshall Howe was the unofficial gravedigger who survived and yet had handled many of the infected bodies, an immunity that may have been brought about as he had survived it earlier on.

If I should get there I shall look around for some nice pictures, the village and hall looked rather nice from what I could find online. I’ll be sure to feedback if I do!

7.50 am 21st December 1910, there was an underground explosion at the Hulton Bank Colliery No 3, in Lancashire. Lancashire is the North West of England and the place I call home (see my Pendle Post for more intriguing tales!)

On the day of the explosion there were around 900 workers on the site of five coal seams. 345 of those workers went to pit shaft three to work, four of those survived, one died immediately and one the next day. The two survivors from that were Joseph Stavely and William Davenport. One man died in the Arley Mine at pit 4 and a rescuer died in pit 3. This meant there were 344 fatalities from the disaster.

Which also leads into the reason I picked this one, Platt Lane in Westhoughton, Lancashire. The road passes close to where the miners died. Reports have come in that says that there are eyes in the hedges, miners walking along the road and an eerie mist that comes down even on the sunniest of days. There are however reports before the disaster that stated the noises of running horses would pass alongside people.

A short film on this can be located here – Link

There are reports of other haunted Colliers too.

Just across in the County of Yorkshire the Barnsley area suffered nine deaths in the 1850’s. The reports of their sightings continued until the 20th Century as the mine continued to be in operation.

Also in Yorkshire, Maltby had a report that two lads walking around the local quarry found a half-naked man drinking from a bottle of cider. The figure disappeared into the shaft, and one of the witnesses later learnt that a former miner with a drinking problem had been found dead in the area, at the slurry pit.

Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, has a slightly different legend around its pits. A tin mine shaft was named Roaring Shaft as bangs and thuds were heard from it. Not placing the matter in the hands of ghosts the noises were given to be made by Kobolds or Bucca.

Castleton in Derby had another problem in their pits; Odin Mine was supposedly traversed by Shuck. This phantom black hound might well have come in to play as the hunting hounds linked to the name of the Mine’s Norse god, Odin. Shuck appears to like travelling as he has also been reported at Matlock Bath area in Derbyshire too.

Down the road we used to have Cotgrave Colliery in Nottingham, around 1987 there was a report of a man dressed in black wearing a helmet who walked through the wall. The miner/stranger was said to have no face. Unfortunately the Colliery no longer stands and I haven’t found any other notes about it. Correct me if you have!

Dickie’s skull appears to be part of the “screaming skull” events that are recounted throughout history. This one takes place in Tunstead, Milton, Derbyshire. Tunstead Farm is now colloquially known as Dickie’s Farm to many from the 1700’s onwards.

There are several legends about who he is, but there is one thing for sure. the hauntings reported at the farm are associated with the skull there.

Any strangers on the land would soon be noticed when the residents would hear furious knocking on the door that would see no one outside, it would appear Dickie was a good guard dog as well!

Unfortunately he did deter farm labourers too as they were sent away due to the noises. However Dickie wasn’t just there to scare people away. when the farm animals were in need of aid he would notify them of that too with his rappings and knockings.

Dickie was once stolen, he was traced to Cheshire. The villains were eager to hand him over as well, saying that the noises had been unbearable.

In 1988 Dickie was reported as lost, no doubt if he wants to come home he will make sure he is heard from.