Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Derbyshire, part 3

On Tuesday, we started at the Blue John mines, near Castleton. This is the view outside.

Inside, there were 244 steps each way – and they were very slippery (son and I slipped a couple of times). Very pretty, though.

Some of the flowstone is known as Old Man's Snot...

Despite the description, the kids insisted on touching it… and it felt smooth, like an ice sculpture.

I was in charge of mapreading, so we went the pretty way to Castleton, through the pass.

Then to Peveril Castle. Very steep on the way up (made us realise how unfit we are), but what a view.

Then we visited Hathersage and the church of St Michael and All Angels. Little John's grave is here. The gravestone says: ‘Here lies buried Little John, the friend and lieutenant of Robin Hood. He died in a cottage (now destroyed) to the east of the churchyard. The grave is marked by this old headstone and footstone and is underneath this old yew tree.'
Many of the Eyre family were buried here; the curate was a man called Henry Nussey, whose sister Ellen was best friend to a certain Charlotte Bronte.

Then to Eyam, the plague village. It's a desperately sad story; tailor George Viccars ordered some cloth from London in 1665, when the plague was rampant in London. The cloth seemed damp, so he dried it in front of the fire, not realising that the virus was dormant in the cloth. He died in this cottage a few days later of a strange virus; then other people in the house started dying, and eventually the villagers realised it was the plague. Squire Mompesson, with the consent of the village, sealed off the village; food and medicine and rents etc could be left at the well or the boundary stonebut nobody was allowed in or out. Most people in Eyam died, but their bravery meant that the plague didn't spread to the surrounding villages. One particularly sad story is a girl who met her sweetheart from the next village in secret until her family started dying, when she begged him to stay away. When the village opened its borders again, he discovered that she'd died of the plague; he lived to a very old age but never married because he couldn't forget his sweetheart.

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