An imaginary broadsheet from 1665/6
giving background to the Eyam story.
From the Eyam Museum Teacher's Pack

The Saint Paul's Churchyarde Broadsheet

AD 1665. July 9th - August 10th


The progress of the Pestilence

There died of the Plague in London eleven hundred the 1st week of July. On August 2nd there was kept throughout England a solemn fast to acknowledge God's displeasure against the land by pestilence.

August 1st

There are now perishing near ten thousand poor creatures weekly. It is a dismal passage and a dangerous for a hardy soul to walk the city and suburbs and see so many coffins exposed in the streets and the ways thin of people, the shops shut up and all in a mournful silence, not knowing whose turn it might be next.


Are ye Like to Take the Present Pestilence? Or no? Let the Learned Dr. Nowall, ASTROLOGER, Cast yr HOROSCOPE. Find him at the Sign of the COCK AND BULL, Coleman St.

REMEDIES for the PLAGUE such as Waters, Oyles, Treacles, Plasters, Pigeons for application available from SIMON PENNYWEIGHT, APOTHECARY of KING STREET. DELAY NOT. HAVE HELP BY YOU AT HOME WHEN NEED ARISE.



Conceal Pock-marks, Enhance yr Natural Beauty. Visit Thoms Bloom, Apothecary to the Famous, Drury Lane, for Preparations, Salves, Lotions, Patches.

Ceruse paste prepared to our Special Receipt. Saffron Wash and Belladonna Drops (to brighten the eyes) ready for use.

THE VERY LATEST! Trimmed Mouseskin Eyebrows. Easy to apply and elegant in appearance. Newly arrived from the Continent. Wear them to the theatre or at Court and be a SENSATION.


Items of apparel no longer required; as gowns, stuff suits, breeches, cloaks. Bolts of cloth unused. Cash paid. These stuffs also available for sale. Can be sent into the country. Prompt delivery. Wilkins and BOBBIN, Tailors' Suppliers. Tower St.

Human TEETH. Must be in Good Condition. Fair Prices paid for full sets. Personal callers only to JONAS GOBBE, Barber, Chirurgeon, Toothdrawer at THE BEARE, Fetter Lane. Dentures also fitted.

GENTLEMEN WHY GO BALD OR GREY? We recommend MASTER BENJAMIN HAWSHARE, Wigmaker to the Nobility. Wigs of all styles guaranteed free from nits and fleas. Beard brush given away with each full wig purchased.

The Saint Paul's Churchyarde Broadsheet

AD 1666. June 1st - September 15th


An Apology for Long Absence. We are heartily sorry that, first by reason of the Pestilence that still rageth and by which we have lost goodly men of our trade, and secondly for that our whole place of business hath been utterly destroyed by the recent Conflagration, we are constrained to print - and that but imperfectly - three months together of our usual broadsheet.

Alas, Paul's Churchyard is no more; henceforth, look for us in St Mary's Axe, whither we are removed by the Grace of God and the kindness of our fellow guildsmen.

* * * *


A Mangling by the Dutch.

On June 1st was heard in the gardens to the east, the great guns of a naval battle.

June 3rd - Whit Sunday: there was news that the navy under the Duke of Albemarle had been engaged all Saturday and that one of our finest ships, the 'Henry' was like to burnt.

June 6th. The news reached us of the dreadful encounter and a most disast'rous defeat suffered by our brave fleet at the hands of those Dutchment, which chas'd our ships well nigh home to London before a squadron under the command of His Majesty's cousin, Prince Rupert, put some heart into our men and halted the worst of the carnage. For this mercy, God be thanked, but even so, great number of our sailors perished and many suffered grievous wounds.

June 6th. One of our correspondents, Mr Samuel Pepys, a Treasurer in the Navy Office, has described to us how a couple of men from the fleet came to speak with him, as he was at dinner. He went down to see a Mr Daniel, all muffled up and his face as black as a chimney and covered with dirt, pitch and tar, and his right eye stopped with oakum (or oiled hemp); and his companion in no better case. They had been set ashore that morning at 2-o-clock at Harwich in a ketch with about twenty more wounded men from the 'Royal Charles'. They being able to ride, took horse about 3 in the morning and was in London between 11 & 12.

Mr Pepys observes that the story of our defeat, that these two wounded sailormen had to tell, ought to be of use to us to check our pride and presumption in adventuring upon hazards against a people that can fight, it seems now, as well as we, and that will not be discouraged by any losses but that they will rise again.

June 7th. Mr John Evelyn, one of our Commissioners for the sick and wounded, has despatched more surgeons, linen and medicaments to the several ports where the wounded have come ashore to hospitals.

June 15th. Mr Evelyn described to us how he beheld at Sheerness, the sad spectacle of more than half that gallant bulwark of the kingdom, namely our navy, miserably shattered and hardly a vessel entire, appearing like so many wrecks and hulls, so cruelly had the Dutch mangled us.


A City in Ruins.

September 2nd (From our own reporters and other eye witnesses).

This fatal night at about ten began that deplorable fire in London. The fire, conspiring with a fierce east wind in a very dry season, burnt through Tower St., Fenchurch St. and Gracechurch St. and laid hold of St. Paul's Cathedral. the conflagration was so universal and the people so astonished that from the beginning they hardly stirred to quench it.

There was nothing heard of seen by crying out and lamentatiuon, and running about like distracted creatures, without at all attempting to save even their goods.

The fire burned the churches, public halls, Exchange, hospitals, monuments and ornaments, leaping from house to house and street to street after a prodigious manner; for, with a long spell of fair and warm weather, the heat had even ignited the air and prepared the materials to conceive the fire, which, after an incredible manner, devoured houses, furniture, everything.

The noise, crackling and thunder of the impetuous flames, the shrieking of women and children, the hurry of people and the fall of towers, houses and churches, was like an hideous storm, and the air all about was so hot and inflamed that, at the last, one was not able to approach it, but was forced to stand still and let the flames consume on. The clouds of smoke also were dismal and reached nearly fifty miles in length.

O, the miserable and calamitous spectacle! London was, but is no more.

[For the above account we are indebted to Mr. John Evelyn, whose work regarding the sick and wounded we have already had occasion to mention. He also sent us this description of his activities on....]

September 7th.  

Clambering    over  mountains of yet smoking rubbish and  frequently mistaking where I was,

the ground under my feet being so hot that it made me not only sweat but even burnt the soles of my feet. I went towards Islington and Highgate, where one might have seen two hundred thousand people of all ranks and degrees dispersed and lying alongside their heaps of what they could save from the flames, deploring their loss and yet, though ready to perish for hunger and destitution, not asking one penny for relief - which appeared to me a stranger sight than any I yet beheld.

His Majesty and Council, however, took all imaginable care for their relief, by proclamation for the country people to come in and refresh them with provisions.

[Additional reporting on this most grave of occurrences comes from another eye-witness, Mr. Samuel Pepys].

September 2nd (he writes)

So I got down to the Waterside, and there got a boat and through the bridge, and saw a lamentable fire. Everyone endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging into the River, or bringing them into lighters that lay off. Poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stair by the waterside to another.

And among other things, the poor pigeons, I perceive, were loath to leave their houses, but hovered aboyt the windows and balconies till they were some of them burned, their wings, and fell down.

At last met my Lord Mayor in Canning St., like a man spent, with a handkercher about his neck. To the King's message (that houses were to be pulled down to halt the spread of fire) he cried like a fainting woman:- 'Lord what can I do? I am spent. People will not obey me. I have been pulling down houses. But the fire overtakes us faster than we can do it'.

A HOPEFUL (AND ASTONISHING) FOOTNOTE: September 13th. Mr Evelyn presented His Majesty King Charles II with a survey of the ruins, and a plan for a new city!!!


An item from the provinces.

The following item has reached us through a member of the household of the Noble Earl of Devonshire, but newly come from his great seat at Chatsworth in Derbyshire. We think it will be of interest to our readers, still suffering as we all do, from the fearful prevalence of the Plague amongst us. It reminds us that even in our woe, we are but one part of this kingdom, and that by the example of others who suffer as we do, we may learn fortitude and self-sacrifice.

It seems that one of the villages for which the Noble Earl takes responsibility, as landlord and Lord Lieutenant. was stricken last summer by the pestilence, carried thither, it is believed, in contaminated cloth sent from a London merchant to a tailor in the village. Many poor souls took sick and died. Great fear fell upon them; all in this village, EYAM by name, believing that the hand of God was raised against them by reason of their sins.

In their extremity, they were sustained by their new rector, the Reverend William Mompesson and by the former holder of the living, the Reverend Thomas Stanley, displaced from the parish because of his non-conformity. These two good men persuaded the folk in their care to isolate themselves within the parish boundaries, that no neighbouring townships, villages and hamlets should take the contagion and suffer as they were doing. This has been held to with success so far as can be ascertained to date.

To our sorrow, we understand that the dear wife of William Mompesson has lately fallen victim to the disease along with a dreadful number of those she helped to succour and who endured their fearful isolation along with her and her husband.

Admiring of their brave resolve, the Earl of Devonshire gave freely of provisions and medicaments, a system having been organized by which these could be received without contaminating those who carried the supplies. We thank God for those who cared for their fellow men enough to sacrifice their hope of safety that others might go unharmed and for those who supported them. May God have mercy upon all who have died, and all who are still in peril, here in London and elsewhere.


Over the last 18 months the Royal Society has continued to meet in despite of the pestilence, to the great advancement of science.

In March 1665: Mr Boyle's experiments with his new air-pump continued, as:- a kitten, being placed in a container, the air was sucked out by means of the pump, whereupon the cat apparently expired. The air being re-introduced, the animal revived. Conclusion:- air is necessary to sustain life.

In great contrast, during the same month, members heard a most interesting lecture on the great variety of bread-baking in France, and the methods used in it.

May 1665: it was demonstrated beyond doubt, that the oil distilled from tobacco is mighty poisonous - even to death - to the system that takes it in.

In the same month, members were astonished to see a human foetus, aborted some months previously, prefectly preserved in spirits of salt.

January 1666. Further experiments with respiration were performed, but their exact use to which this apparently necessary intake of air into a living body is put, remains as yet a mystery. It was at this meeting that the learned fellow, Dr. Merritt, showed that all was a mystery to him by being taken up, drunk, before the end of the proceedings.

February 1666. Mr Hooke, who demonstrated his new pendulum last year, gave a talk on felt manufacture.

Dr. Christopher Wren discoursed on the use of squares in architectural drawing.

Our latest reports from this exciting body of learning refer to experiments in transferring a quantity of blood from one animal to another.

Even in the midst of fire and pestilence, the enquiring mind is undaunted.


"Friend", said one black rat to another, as they sat together on the rim of a hogshead of beer, preening their long whiskers and surveying the inn-yard below their perch, "have you heard that the Lord Mayor of this great city has ordered all the dogs and cats in the town to be killed?"

"Has he really?" the other replied, with a twitch of his pointed nose. "Then we can prepare ourselves for a merry life. Not only shall we have free access to what rubbishy bits are thrown into the streets, but there will be no teeth or claws to defend the rich store-places from our raids".

"Tee hee!" chortled his friend, with a gleam of anticipation in his beady eyes "Even our human enemies will be laid low by the plague that we shall be able to spread easily amongst them. They will be unable to attack us. We shall be the kings of London Town! Cheese and pickles, here I come!" and he popped his head over the rim, ready to leap to the ground and set off for the nearest pantry.

"Ho! ho! Not so fast, Black Rat", said the Flea that had just taken a frog-leap onto the barrel from the cooling body of a rat that had recently been kicked to death by a drunken porter. "I heard that, and I want my share of the fun. You can take me with you" and she (she was a female flea) burrowed comfortably into the warm fur of the rat's neck as he jumped.

Of course, she was not the only flea in his fur, but she was the only one carrying a bacillus (or germ) that could spread the plague, and she was proud of the power that gave her to spoil the rat's plans for his future.

She waited until he was poised to gnaw his was through the rind of a fine side of bacon on the tradesman's larder he had selected, and then sank her little fangs sharply into the vein of his neck - she was ready for refreshment by then, anyway.

The rat found he could not enjoy his meal. He felt terrible. It was not long before he crawled away and rolled onto his back with his feet in the air - dead as a doornail of plague.

His hopes had come to nothing.

But the Flea was not much better off. Leaving his cold corpse, she chose what she thought was a particularly fine, large, warm furry creature, only to find herself suffocating in the folds of a thick length of cloth being packed for transport. She was squashed to death under the weight of other packages, and did not even have time, like some of the others trapped with her, to lay a few eggs to hatch out in the warmth of the tailor's kitchen in Eyam, and take revenge for her by biting poor George Viccars.

So much for the pursuit of selfish pleasure!