The Village of Eyam – an historic story of plague

February 25th, 2019

It was back in November 2015 that I stumbled upon the beautiful village of Eyam and the intriguing true story of the plague quarantine.

Eyam museum

I will never forget the holidays I spent in Eyam whilst working on this latest novel. It is an incredible place, with some fantastically helpful and knowledgeable historians who work hard at sharing this exceptional story with those who visit the village.

For this blog, I’m sharing the Foreword of my book, ‘ A Shadow Beyond’, to give you a taste of the story behind the story:

On the 7th September 1665, the village of Eyam witnessed the outbreak of plague. Located in the heart of the Peak District, Eyam is far from where plague was rife at the time, but a bale of cloth that had been sent from London brought the disease into the village, triggering fourteen months of tragedy.

Between September 1665 and November 1666, two hundred and sixty people in the village of Eyam lost their lives. As the disease rampaged without mercy, whole families were wiped out, sometimes in as little as a week.

Final resting place for seven members of the Hancock family.

However, it was not the onslaught of plague that gives Eyam its iconic place in British history, but the sacrifice that the villagers made to prevent it spreading across more of Derbyshire.

Led by the relatively new and young village rector, William Mompesson and the former Puritan clergyman, Thomas Stanley, the villagers agreed to a ‘cordon sanitaire’. Nobody was to enter the village and nobody was to leave.

Whilst many would have been forced to remain in Eyam as their livelihood depended on it, or they had nowhere else to go, these were God fearing times. No matter how terrified the people of Eyam may have been, their oath to God to remain in quarantine would have been taken extremely seriously.

The historical events in this novel take place during the fourteen months that plague ravaged Eyam. Whilst the main plot that follows the tragic and chilling secret of the Thornycroft family is entirely a work of fiction, the story of plague and some of the characters affected by the disease within the novel are based on true events.

My inspiration for Francesca’s horse, Jack.

My emotions ran high when writing ‘A Shadow Beyond’. The history of Eyam is extremely humbling and awe inspiring.

Whether you are familiar with the history of Eyam or not, I hope that you will enjoy the book as much as I loved researching and writing it.

‘A Shadow Beyond’ is released on 28th February and is available for pre-order now at Amazon Kindle.

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