Eyam by Matt Hartley

Matt Hartley’s new play Eyamdirected by Adele Thomas, opened in The Globe from  Saturday 15 September to 13th October 2018.

It tells the story of what happened when the plague arrived in the Derbyshire village of Eyam in 1665. The community faced a moral dilemma. They had to decide whether to flee and risk spreading the deadly disease, or stay in the village and protect others from the risk, but face the potential of their own slow and painful death. Could they put neighbourhood feuds aside and pull together as a community?

The full cast includes: Annette Badland, Zora Bishop, Adrian Bower, Priyanga Burford, John Paul Connolly, Sam Crane, Becci Gemmell, Will Keen, Norah Lopez-Holden, Luke MacGregor, Jordan Metcalfe, Oliver Ryan, Sirine Saba, Howard Ward and Rose Wardlaw.


Display in Eyam Museum
Display in Eyam Museum

A true story

In 1665, the plague infiltrated a small Derbyshire village via a tailor’s cloth brought back from London. The citizens had to decide if they should flee and save themselves or  quarantine the village to stop the Black Death spreading. The villagers decided to stay and three quarters of them died. The church in Eyam has a record of 273 individuals who were victims of the plague.

A real village

Eyam plague cottage - photo by Juliamaud
Eyam plague cottage – photo by Juliamaud

The idea of wanting to visit a plague village might seem a morbid one.

And, to be fair, we had not set out to visit it but stumbled upon the place during a drive through the peak district. Sign posted as an area of historical interest, Eyam is a beautiful little village in the English countryside.

It is now a tourist attraction with a charming little museum, delightful tea rooms and a treasure trail of plaques running through it. The plaques help you to trace the steps of the villagers back in the time of the notorious bubonic plague outbreak that devastated so many of the local families.

Eyam Hall is also located in the village. It is Jacobean-style manor house and is a grade II listed building. Formerly managed by The National Trust, Eyam Hall and Craft Centre are owned and managed by the Wright family. The Hall is open to the public on selected days and available for private functions such as weddings.

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