Guide to the museum

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Eyam and its museum are ideal for a family day out. The main public car park, with toilet facilities, lies directly opposite the museum, and a free car park, opened in 2009, lies behind and above the Council car park. The museum is therefore a good place to start your visit. Please ask at the desk for a free I-spy sheet or Quiz for the children to do as they go round.

A souvenir activity and colouring sheet is available - ask at the ticket desk.

The Museum tells the story of the development of a community from prehistoric to modern times. Eyam attracts attention due to the tragic epidemic of Bubonic Plague in the middle of the 17th century, its subsequent social and industrial development, and its fascinating geology and prehistory. It is worth building on the story of human disaster during the Plague, to learn more about the relationship of men and women to each other and to their environment through the ages. That is what our museum aims to do.


Was it Plague?

There has been some debate about the nature of the disease. Many possibilities have been suggested, even that infection was brought to Earth by meterorites. A panel now presents the various theories.


The Delta 32 gene

The story of the CCR5/Delta 32 gene is told on the last panel at the top of the stairs by which you return to the ground floor. This mutation gives immunity not only to plague, but also to HIV/AIDS.

More information about this discovery is given here




The story of plague begins in the entrance hall, where a pictorial description of events in London in 1665 is to be seen. The mural begins with plague infested rats leaving ships at the docks, and continues with details of the reactions of the population to the ravages of the disease. It was painted exclusively for Eyam Museum by local artist Jim Ford.

The following panels describe the nature of the bubonic plague (black rats bearing fleas, which in turn carry the deadly bacilli) and its spread and effect upon human populations from biblical times (eg. Ancient Egypt) to the Middle Ages (The Black Death), and on to the mid-17th century. London was the largest European city to suffer an outbreak, of which the deaths in Eyam were a by-product.

The story of the Eyam outbreak begins at Panel 7, with facsimiles from the Parish Register, wills, and other documents of the time. A 3-D display shows the moment when the fleas bearing the bacilli were released from the cloth in the tailor's cottage. The answers to the puzzle that has occupied students of the Eyam story appear on the adjoining panel, and are the result of recent research.

The Eyam Plague story continues to the right of the archway into the new Eyam Connections Room, where a diversion can be made. Opened in March 2012, it will be used for temporary displays with local themes. A series of panels describes some of the earliest evidence of human life in the area, explains the name "Eyam" (place between streams), and describes the geological structure that promoted a supply of water and mineral deposits.

To your left is a display on 17th century medicine, and an array of early medical instruments. Some of the facts are gruesome, but some you may find amusing..

Straight ahead a digital presentation, "Eyam then and now" shows how the village has changed over the past 100 years, and the far wall is occupied by two pictures painted at Stoney Middleton in the 1890s, with modern comparisons.

The story of the plague continues. A series of panels on the stairs show various remedies for the Plague, many of which sound strange to us now. There is also a panel describing the dreadful symptoms of the disease.

Further details and anecdotes of the Eyam Plague are to be found on the first floor. A display shows the rectors, Stanley and Mompesson, in the study at the old rectory (now partly replaced by a more modern building) with some of the furniture that actually belonged there, and a further scene depicts the last hours of a plague victim.

The arrangements made by the rectors to quarantine Eyam, preventing wholesale infection of surrounding towns and villages, are described, with an indication of survival as well as the total death toll. A chart shows the households known to have suffered plague deaths, and their relationship to each other through kinship. The story of bubonic plague after 1666 - mercifully less disturbing - is indicated on the final panels on this floor.

The second staircase leads back to the ground floor, and the Recovery.



The Plague in London in 1665

The Plague in London

The rat flea Xenopsylla cheopis

The rat flea Xenopsylla cheopis

The last days of John Daniel

The last days of John Daniel

Mompesson and Stanley discuss the quarantining of Eyam

The rectors Stanley and Mompesson discuss the quarantining of Eyam



The Recovery

Back on the ground floor you will see a series of displays devoted to the growth and decline of local industries. We tell how the village recovered after the plague. The people returned to the occupations of farming and lead mining, and other industries grew up such as cotton, silk and shoe manufacture, the mining of fluorspar, and limestone quarrying. The geology of the area is particularly interesting, and is also briefly described in this section. A dramatic model of an old lead mine was installed in 2002.


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