Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Maggie on Tour 2011: Day 7, Sunday 14th August

All too soon, our little odyssey was drawing to a close. On the last morning Phil informed me that he was going to take me to Eyam. When I was about 14 years old, I saw a TV play called 'The Roses of Eyam' which told the story of this old Derbyshire village, whose inhabitants put themselves into voluntary quarantine when the bubonic plague broke out there in 1665. The story has stayed with me, haunted me, since the play was aired in about 1976. It was only when I picked up a leaflet on our trip to Bakewell that I realised Eyam was in Derbyshire.

After breakfast we set off through the countryside on the short journey to Eyam. There is a small museum there, of which a major part is devoted to the re-telling of the story of this small community, faced with the outbreak of the plague. It dealt with the experiences of individual families which really brought home the tragedy of the events which took place. Personal stories were backed up with cold statistics, the day by day record of named deaths over a number of months. Sobering stuff. It was a relief to get outside again into the Sunday morning sunshine. As you pass through the village, you pass the cottages where the first deaths occurred and the churchyard where one of the victims lies buried. The people of Eyam still live with the daily reminder of the events which took place there. Lovely though the village was, I didn't take out my camera - it seemed inappropriate, somehow.

Our final stop before home was Buxton, traditional spa resort. The elegance of earlier days is evidenced in the attractive architecture of the Crescent, the Baths (now a smart shopping arcade), the hotels, the opera house and the Pavilion Gardens. We were both pretty tired and agree that perhaps we need to give Buxton another visit to really do it justice. However, we did spend a very pleasant hour in the beautiful gardens, watching the world to by and listening to a brass band playing in the bandstand. Bring back brass bands in our parks - an essential part of a wonderful cultural tradition!

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