The great plague


Food was left at the boundary stone outside the village in the Plague

Welcome to those of you who have joined my club. Those 1.7 million of you who have been added to the list because you have been newly identified as being more at risk than they originally thought. There are now about four million of us who are ‘shielders’. We must all avoid leaving the house except in cases of emergency. We have had an email from the Government (I am getting quite used to hearing from on high) setting out what we should do and not do.

If you are shielding you will be prioritised for the jab. You will also be able to join the group that tell their jab stories. We tell about how we heard, was it a letter or a phone call, where we went, how we parked and how long the queue was. The list for conversation is endless!

It is three weeks now since I had mine and that means that I should have some immunity. But of course, I am not taking any risks. I am still shielding.

The village of Eyam has been in the news recently and not because of vaccinations. But because the people there decided to shield themselves from the rest of the world, to stop the spread of the Great Plague in 1665. As school children we all heard of the bravery of the people in that little village who sacrificed themselves for the sake of the country.

We knew that the man who opened a bale of cloth from London was infected by disease-carrying human fleas, trapped in the material. George Viccars was the first person in Eyam to die of the plague. The vicar of Eyam persuaded the people of the village to isolate stopping the infection spreading to big places, like Sheffield, nearby.

Three years ago, I went with my family to Buxton in Derbyshire. We stayed in a wonderful Airbnb cottage (do you remember those?) and drove to the village of Eyam about half an hour away. It was so interesting to visit the church, steeped in history of the Great Plague, not even dreaming of our very own plague today. We visited the village hall crowded with people looking at a poultry egg exhibition. Who has one of those now-a-days?

But my pilgrimage was to the boundary stone out in a field. This was where the people in the next village left supplies and where Eyam people left coins, disinfected in vinegar, as payment. The stone has little holes carved in and I put some coins in there myself, as remembrance of self-sacrifice and kindness.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

Exhibition of eggs at Eyam


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