EYAM MUSEUM ring-a-ring of roses a ring a ring of roses

Winner of the 1998/9 Museum of the Year Shoestring Award

The moving saga of life in 'Plague Village'

elizabeth hancock Death on a massive scale

Bubonic Plague has been described as 'the most dangerous disease known to mankind' and has killed more souls than all the wars ever fought between the nations of the world.

It raged in biblical Asia: it raged in the Roman Empire: and it swept across Europe from the 14th Century on, when people cursed it as the 'Black Death'. At this time and three hundred years later, it also raged in Britain - and when it came, it claimed almost a third of the lives in the land.

The Great Plague entered London in the 17th Century and came to Eyam by the most unfortunate of mishaps - carried by fleas festering in a box of cloth brought from the capital for the village tailor.

the last days of John Daniel
The last days of John Daniel
The Plague in Eyam unwapping the cloth
The fatal bundle of cloth is unwrapped
Two clergymen ensured that the village survived the next few months and that the Plague was not spread to the surrounding area.

William Mompesson was the newly appointed rector of Eyam and, with his predecessor, Thomas Stanley, he persuaded the villagers to enter voluntary quarantine, bury their own dead and even worship outdoors to limit the spread of the disease.

People in the surrounding area sent provisions to the people of Eyam which were left on the village boundary.

The death toll was terrible - between September 1665 and October 1666, no fewer than 76 families were stricken and 260 people - perhaps a third of the population - met an awful, pained death
mompesson & stanley
The rectors discuss the proposed isolation of the village
The Plague and after
Some families were wiped out. Others left just a single survivor - like the Hancock family at Riley Farm, where Elizabeth Hancock buried her husband and six children in just eight days.

The sufferings of the families - the Coopers, the Hadfields, the Syddals, the Thorpes, the Blackwells, the Talbots, the Mortens, the Kempes, the Merrills, are recorded on their houses around the village.

When the Plague finally loosed its terrible grip on the village it left a population of more than 400 people who once again needed to make their living.

Naturally they returned to their traditional trade of lead-mining in the hills above the village. Smallholdings were tended again, and gradually the village filled with people once more.
Eyam Museum - Eyam past and present
Eyam Museum first opened in 1994, and was extended and fully refurbished in 1997.

In three interconnecting display areas, it tells the moving story of a village whose history is unique:
  • the pre-history of human life in the area
  • the Roman roots of the settlement
  • the Saxon roots of its name
  • the nature, history and movement of Bubonic Plague
  • the arrival and terrible effect of plague in Eyam
  • some popular 'quack' remedies people turned to in their desperation
  • the new industries that later nurtured the village
  • the geological significance of the area
Eyam museum offers a simple, easily understood presentation of historic facts. It shows how the human spirit is capable of overcoming even the most dreadful of natural catastrophes.

The museum was inspired by a collection created by the late Clarence Daniel, a lifelong Eyam resident and descendant of one of the 76 families afflicted by the plague.
location map
Opening Times
Tuesday to Sunday - 10.00 am to 4.30 pm
Closed Monday except Bank Holidays
Closed November-March

Groups may book by telephone or by letter
Maximum number for lectures - 30

Telephone: 01433 631371
For school bookings: 0114 230 5723

For more details of the museum see our website at:

Registered charity No 702067
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