Eyam's Quarantine: The Real Village Of The Damned Who Sacrificed Themselves To Save Their Neighbors During The Plague

By Jacob Shelton


During the 14th century, the bubonic plague wiped out an estimated 50 million people, ripping them away from their families in a matter of weeks. The fatality rate at the time was around 60%, so if you got it, you were more than likely done for. They best you could do was keep to yourself and try not to infect anyone else, but it's understandably hard to consider others when you're dying.

When the Great Plague returned in the 1660s, the citizens of a small English town called Eyam made the courageous decision to quarantine, saving neighboring towns while condemning themselves to death. The Plague wiped out at least one-third of the small village, but their terrible and heroic plan worked, and they managed to stave off an outbreak of the bubonic plague.

The Plague Came On A Pile Of Clothes

Deadly things can come in small packages. In 1665, the Plague arrived in Eyam in the form of infected fleas embedded in a bale of cloth shipped from London, where the disease had already killed thousands. Local legend states that George Viccars, a tailor's assistant, opened the bale of cloth and hung it to dry, waking the fleas and becoming the first victim of the Plague in Eyam. Following the demise of Viccars, the illness spread throughout the village in the final months of 1665. By spring, 42 villagers had perished, and the survivors were panic-stricken.