The story of the plague is centred around this parish church.
When the plague struck in August 1665 it was the rector William Mompesson, aided by his predecessor Thomas Stanley, who was the driving force behind Eyam’s extraordinary, self-imposed quarantine. 30% of the village’s population perished in the following 14 months.
Mompesson’s wife Catherine died on the 25th August 1666, almost exactly one year after the outbreak began. Her tomb (centre of image above), a memorial to Thomas Stanley and the headstone of Abel Rowland can all be found close to the south side of the church – as can an 8th century Celtic cross. Here you’ll also find an impressive sundial, dating from 1775.
Like a shadow, so passes life
As well as telling the time in Eyam, the sundial’s shadow indicates noon for various places around the world. The Latin engraving at the top of the dial translates as “Cultivate an enquiring mind”, and on the corbels upon which the sundial is attached, “Like a shadow, so passes life”.
Catherine’s tomb, designed by her husband, also contains a latin inscription which reads as “Beware ye know not the hour”.
As you tour the village you will find many buildings contain small green plaques providing details of plague victims.