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UK’s ‘plague village’ of 1665 ready for 2020 pandemic

Let’s raise a glass to Eyam Brewery during the coronavirus Covid-19 crisis.


Nestled in the rolling hills of the UK county of Derbyshire lies a pretty, historic village called Eyam.

Today the surface tranquillity of tea rooms and small stone cottages contrasts with the story that makes this place famous – make that infamous: in 1665, the village adopted an extreme form of social distancing amid an outbreak of bubonic plague.

The altruistic gesture of the townspeople – orchestrated by the village’s newly arrived priest William Mompesson – would be costly as it would be successful. One quarter of the townspeople would perish in the following months, but the outbreak was contained and didn’t spread to the cities nearby.

Now the village is braced for the arrival of another fast-spreading virus, though as yet there have been no reports of the coronavirus Covid-19 among the 900-or-so inhabitants.

Most are commuters – either to the nearby cities or Derby and Sheffield – though some venture further to London some 260km to the south.

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