Coronavirus: Covid-19 fears forces ‘plague village’ service online

Plague cottages, EyamImage copyright
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Image caption

Eyam’s story became well known during Victorian times as an example of self-sacrifice

A memorial service for a village that quarantined itself from the plague more than 350 years ago is to be held online due to coronavirus fears.

In 1665, residents in Eyam, Derbyshire, locked themselves away for more than a year to avoid spreading the disease.

Reverend Mike Gilbert said a decision to cancel the service and costume procession was made due to dozens of media enquiries about visiting.

He feared an influx of people could risk the spread of Covid-19.

The annual Plague Memorial Service takes place on the final Sunday of August at Cucklet Delf, an outdoor site that hosted services during the plague.

It remembers the estimated 260 people who lost their lives to the disease – about 75% of the village’s population.

However this year the service will be streamed on Eyam Parish Church’s Facebook page.

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Media captionFergal Keane met people in Eyam, the former ‘plague village’ in Derbyshire, dealing with coronavirus

“We’ve had press from Holland, America, Argentina and France,” said Mr Gilbert.

“People from a dozen countries all said, ‘Can we come?’. With that amount of interest, though that’s lovely, I didn’t feel in all conscience I could keep people safe.”

Joan Plant, a descendant of a Plague villager, said it was the right decision.

She said: “I think it was very prudent of the church to follow that line, simply because we can’t manage the volume of visitors that would be here.”

Parish manager Gillian Armitt said Eyam’s story had similarities to what people are experiencing in the current pandemic.

“The story is about a community in lockdown,” she said.

“Digging deep into their faith, loving each other, helping each other in the community to get through something really serious.”

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