|Signpost to Mompesson's Well|
|William Mompesson (1639- 1709)|
When I was tootling around Derbyshire the other day, I passed through the village of Eyam which is widely known as "The Plague Village".
Back in 1665/66 when bubonic plague was sweeping through Europe, a bundle of cloth was sent up to Eyam from London. It is believed that this cloth contained plague-bearing fleas. Soon several local people were infected and as death began to strike Eyam, the local vicar, William Mompesson, urged his fellow villagers to accept a self-imposed quarantine which they duly agreed.
At least that is how the story goes. The truth about what happened was probably somewhat different.
For fourteen months it is said that Eyam was cut off from the outside world, preventing further spread of the dreaded plague. During that time around 250 villagers died, leaving less than a hundred survivors.
On the northern side of the village heading up to Eyam Edge there's a natural spring or "well" that had been an important source of water for as long as anyone could remember. It was to this place that outsiders brought precious supplies during the plague months. Coins for payment were left in stony hollows filled with vinegar.
|Mompesson's Well near Eyam|
Years later this well was given the name "Mompesson's Well" in honour of the vicar. By the way, though his first wife died, Mompesson survived and towards the end of the century he became the vicar at Eakring parish church in Nottinghamshire - some thirty five miles away. By chance, I visited that church last year and was surprised to see William Mompesson's name on the list of past vicars. Until that moment I had not realised there was a connection between the two places.
|Clint - the new car near Mompesson's Well|