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St. Lawrence, Eyam

August 9, 2014

St. Lawrence, Eyam

DSCN0197This is one of my favourite churches because of the story of the heroism of the villagers during the plague outbreak of 1665 – 66. The Parsons at the time Thomas Stanley and Parson Mompesson persuaded the village to go into voluntary quarantine in order to lessen the spread of the infection. This resulted in many villagers dying. Their sacrifice has obvious links to that of Jesus Christ and they make much of that at St. Lawrence. One story that they don’t make much of is that of the Revd Joseph Hunt, one time Rector, who is said to have married Ann, the daughter of the local publican in an illegal drunken ceremony. His Bishop made him go through a proper marriage . He was already engaged to another woman who promptly sued him for breach of promise and the resulting legal costs forced him to live in the vestry until his death on 16th December 1709. A good story but it doesn’t quite fit with the image a church might want to portray. The Church has always been a place more for sinners than saints.

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A friendly steward was on duty who gave some lurid descriptions of the plaque to some visitors whilst I was there. I don’t think it was actually as bad as he made out but it was still pretty dire.There is a very good display on the plague here and its effect on the village. There booklets and maps available to guide you around as many victims were simply buried in their gardens. One poor woman buried her whole family one by one. It is a very moving story indeed. Some of the descendents of the villagers involved still live in the village and are revered for their ancestors role.

On the church bookstall there are some UCB booklets for Bible reading, lots of history and some colouring sheets for children, cards, post cards and a selection of Christian books. There is a World War 1 display and the chancel is reserved for quiet prayer and there is a prayer request box although this could be better labelled and highlighted.  The church is beautifully kept and a real credit to the congregation and village. There were too many visitors in the book to count. I rate St. Lawrence as very good and you can have a good day out wandering around Eyam and immersing yourself in the fascinating history of the place. There is a good website at http://www.eyam-church.org/ which gives a nice lot of visitor information as well as plenty about what happens in the church today.

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