Posts Tagged ‘graves’

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 

(Sydney, Australia) As people arrived to colonise Australia it was important to minimise the disease, smallpox, plague etc.. reaching the island. A quarantine facility was implemented and an act passed in 1832 meant the quarantine station was there to protect the people for over 100 years. 1828-1984 the station was open in some way or another.

At peak times people would run out of space, camps would be made outside for residents. It could be a miserable experience and healthy people would help with cleaning and constructions just to break the monotony.

Lady McNaughton was a typhoid riddled ship which came with 54 dead in 1837. A further 13 died in the station. Captain Stokes of the Beagle also wrote that it was possible to identify the station by the White Crosses littered around it.

It is still like a city in itself and there are regular tourists, and not surprisingly there are ghost tours in operation.

There are stories of doctors, nurses and disembodied patients that return to haunt the place. There are three cemeteries that now are overgrown or demolished and no doubt some of those buried suffered as they passed from awful sicknesses too. Cold spots and feelings of being touched are reports that have come back.

Park rangers have historically reported ghostly lights or figures in unoccupied hallways and rooms of the building, they have then gone into to investigate only to find that there is no-one there. A common tale from visitors is about a little girl who sometimes holds a tourists hand, or people can join the group, only to later realise that no child was in the tour group.

Another story from the Australian Ghost Hunters Society was that a woman on the tour went to the mortuary with the group. She looked pale and concerned at the end of the tour and when asked why she said she had seen a body on the slab. It was not a prank, she said only she had seemed to see it, and he turned to her. He said “Look what they’ve done to me! Look what they’ve done to me!” he then exposed an incision from his throat to his naval. It was an experience she would never forget.

Q Station+whales

In Northern Italy sits Venice, a lagoon made of a variety of islands and one of those is the island of San Michele. The island was a popular place for local travellers and fishermen to land. A Renaissance church and monastery lie on the island, the monastery also served as a prison for a time. San Michele in Isola is a Roman Catholic church on the island, dedicated to Saint Michael. It was rebuilt in 1469 and the interior has a nave and two aisles.

San Cristoforo was selected to become a cemetery in 1807, under French occupation it was decided burial on the main island was unsanitary. In 1836 the canal between San Michele and San Cristiforo was filled in and the larger island became known as San Michele.

The cemetery is still in use today and has many famous residents upon it, one of those famous residents is Igor Stravinsky.

I spent a glorious afternoon there in the sun, it is thoroughly worth navigating the vaporetto *water boat* to get to the island, even if it is a bit off track from the main areas. I came back enlightened by the beauty of the place and a suntan.

It is asked that you don’t take pictures, like many of the religious spots around Venice. Sadly I found that there was pretty much zero respect for this with tourists, even in the main churches and hotspots it seems that walking around with your iphone is far more indulgent than experiencing the true beauty of the place, which came as a bit of a shock to me…

However that grip aside, the island is amazing and a few sneaky pics were got when we were sure we would not interrupt anyone mourning or when we felt it was safe to do so with respect. I didn’t want to be so arrogant as to take pictures without thinking of a funeral in process…

If you do head over I would suggest you take plenty of water, there’s a lot of nice benches you can stop on. You can find a spot to sit and take in both the exquisit sites and if you get the right time of year, you can really enjoy the weather. After our trip we headed back to the Lido, had something nice to eat and of course a wine in the local bar.

There are ghost tours and investigations but there are other interesting points about this cemetery that may warrant a visit if you are in Indianapolis. John Dillinger the bank robber and Dr Richard Jordan Gatling the inventor of the Gatling Gun are buried at the cemetery that has been used for the last 150 years, it was dedicated in June 1864 and is set like many of the Victorian cemeteries of it’s time.

Community Hill sits next to the larger more commercial part of the cemetery and is not so well advertised, most likely due to the sad history attached to it. It is where the poorer side of the city rested and were left for those widows, orphans and people with little to their name at the time. They are the ones who are either unrecorded or have had their histories erased.

Along the buried are 700 children in graves that are unmarked, they were unwanted by anyone alive and even in death have been left neglected. They came from three public orphanages – Indianapolis Children’s Asylum, the Board of Children’s Guardians Home and the Asylum for Friendless Colored Children all between 1892 and 1980. More than half were boys, two thirds were white and they range from a few months to 15 years old.

It is worth noting that many of them were likely brought to these places in ill health, neglected and suffering malnutrition. These already dire situations were then made worse due to the situation they were left in.

Click here to get a link to the memorial for the children that has been established.

What a strange tourist attraction this is… basically the local people who did not keep the yearly payments up on their graves were going to have the bodies dug up and the grave reused.  There are 119 mummies on display.

The soil properties, the dry climate and time appear to have naturally mummified the bodies and in some cases their clothing. The bodies were put on display at “El Museo de las Momias” and are those buried during a cholera outbreak, it is possible that has contributed to their state.

The bodies were from people that had died between 1865 and 1958. The law stated that the graves had to have a yearly payment but around 90%  of the bodies had to be desinterred due to non paymemt, around 2% of them naturally mummified. A law stopped the practise in 1958 but the original mummies were moved into the museum so people can pay to see them.

It’s not something for the faint of heart, I would advise before clicking on the video that you take into consideration there are some children and other subjects in there that may be upsetting.

Due to the spread of the disease and epidemic of cholera the dead were buried quickly, unfortunately some of these bodies were buried alive.  The museum is a bit of a creepy place but as with all things I find, it peaked my curiosity. One of the things I did find interesting is that the original Nosferatu film maker Werner Herzog took movies of them to assist him with the authenticity of the film!

Perhaps more terrifying than the original mummy video – a song by Toyah Wilcox devoted to it!