How we tell our story
In the museum we explain the Eyam Plague story fully, and also to look at plague more widely throughout history. We look at when and where it happened, where it came from, how it spread, and how many people were killed.
The story is then brought up to date by explaining what we understand now about the plague, where it still happens and how it can be controlled. We show, by applying today’s understanding to what happened 350 years ago, why some villagers are thought to have survived; and most surprisingly what we can learn from their descendants in the village today about modern day disease.
The story begins with a pictorial description of events in London in 1665. It goes on to describe the nature of the bubonic plague (black rats bearing fleas, which in turn carry the deadly bacilli) and its spread and effect upon human populations from Ancient Egypt to the Middle Ages (the Black Death), and on to the mid-17th century. The story of the Eyam outbreak itself begins with facsimiles from the Parish Register, wills, and other documents of the time. Also illustrated are some of the supposed remedies for the Plague.
The story of the plague continues with the description of the arrangements made by William Mompesson and Thomas Stanley, the Rector of Eyam at that time and his predecessor, who worked together to lead the community through this period. A chart shows the households known to have suffered plague deaths, and their relationship to each other through kinship.
The exhibition shows the growth and decline of local industries. How the village recovered after the plague. The geology of the area is particularly interesting, and is briefly described, including a dramatic model of an old lead mine.