The History and Antiquities of Eyam

By William Wood (1842)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2012


Some centuries ago, a person now unknown, left for the poor of Eyam, £15, the interest of which to be annually paid: on St. Thomas's day. Dr. Edmund Finch, left £15 for the same purpose, the interest to be paid at the same time. Mr. James Furness left £5 5s. 0d. to be equally divided amongst ten old widows annually. Eyam is also included in the many villages receiving the well known Gisbourne charity. Dr. Finch, for the teaching of ten poor children of the parish of Eyam, bequeathed to the school £100, which with £15 left by another person, was laid out in freehold land, called the Long Meadow, near Bradwell, now let for £7 a year. Thomas Middleton, Leam, left £5 a year to the school for the teaching of ten children to read and write; this benefaction is charged on two pieces of land, called the Upper and Under Lowe. His Grace the Duke of Devonshire, makes an annual donation of £2 2s. 0d. to the school; and £1 l0s. 0d. is produced by rental of a small piece of common land allotted to the school. Mr. James Furness left £2 a year to the Sunday School, which sum is now equally divided between the school of the Methodists and that of the Established Church. Of the latter school, my father was principal master from its establishment in 1814, to his death in 1832.

The Endowed School is a modern building - only remarkable for its "cotton-mill-like appearance". Mr. Samuel Bromley is the present schoolmaster, who is highly and justly respected for his abilities and morality.

At the present day, Eyam is the residence of a many respectable families, whose respective dwellings are distinguished by elegance and respectability.

The RECTORY, for its commodiousness, situation, gardens, and scenery, is not surpassed by any parsonage house in England. It was rebuilt, in an improved style of architecture, about seventy-five years ago, at the expence of the Rev. T. Seward, Rector of Eyam. Since then its exterior has been greatly improved, and very much so by its present occupant, the Rev. E.B. Bagshaw, Rector. Eyam Hall, the residence of P. Wright, Esq., is a large, handsome, and rather antique looking building. The architecture is of the reign of Elizabeth, but it is a comparatively modern erection - not above a century and a half old, if so much. I have heard this mansion stated as being the same in architecture as Hayes' Farm House, in Devonshire, the house in which Sir Walter Raleigh was born; it is, however, only in one or two particulars that there is any similarity. Eyam Hall is certainly a capacious and massive building, with exterior appendages quite in keeping with the design of the structure; and I have heard the present occupant highly commended, by one skilled in architecture, for preserving, as respects the appendages, the uniformity of the whole.

The Wrights are a very ancient and wealthy family, highly distinguished for equability, consideration, and punctuality. A female of this family married, nearly a century ago, one of the Traffords, of Trafford Hall, Lancashire, who were related through marriage to the Booths, Earls of Warrington.

EYAM FIRS, is a secluded and beautiful villa, a little north of the village. It is the residence of John Wright, Esq., the elder brother of P. Wright, Esq., Eyam Hall.

EYAM TERRACE, in the east of the village, has been often admired for its picturesque situation. Its contiguity to the Dale, so beautifully romantic, adds infinitely to its delightfulness. It is owned and occupied by Thomas Fentem, Esq., Surgeon, who has inherited much of the property of his maternal grandfather, the late Philip Sheldon, Eyam.

A little south-west of the Church, a substantial and highly finished house, has been of late erected by M.M. Middleton, Esq., Leam Hall. It is occupied by William Wyatt, Esq., late of Foolow.

EYAM VIEW, is a very elegant dwelling at the west-end of the village, belonging to Thomas Burgoine, Esq., Edenzor; and late in the occupation of George Platt, Esq.

The residence of Thomas Gregory, Solicitor, is a very substantial house in the west end of the village. And a very excellent and handsome villa is now being erected in the Edge, by Mr. Francis Cocker, Eyam. There are also five good Inns in the village: the Bull's Head, the principal Inn, by Mr. John Booth; the Miners' Arms, by Mr. William Gregory; the Bold Rodney, by Mr. Samuel Fumess; the Rose and Crown, by Mr. Verdan Siddall; and the King's Arms, by Mr. John Slinn.

A Society of Miners, or Sick Society, was established in Eyam, A.D. 1767; a Female Sick Society A.D. 1807; a Cow Club A.D. 1838; and a Funeral Club A.D. 1839; nearly all of which are in an improving state. But Eyam has another equally commendable institution - a Subscription Library, containing above 500 volumes, well selected. It was established A.D. 1821, under the auspices of the Hon. and Rev. Robert Eden, Charles Fentem, Esq., Mr. F. Cocker, Mr. J. Froggatt, and Mr. P. Furness. A Mechanics' Institution has also been judiciously thought of - or rather exists in an embryo state.

During the last great struggle with France, Eyam furnished a company of volunteers, about 100 in number, who went together with the Bakewell and Upper Haddon companies, on permanent duty to Ashbourn. The Eyam company were commanded by P. Wright, Esq., Captain; __ Carliel, Esq., Major; and John Cooper, Lieutenant. Robert Brushfield was Drill Sergeant; Jonathan Hallam, Corporal; Thomas Hancock, Drummer; and James Fox, Bugle-man and Fifer.

Eyam, though I have invariably designated it as a village, is provincially called a town; and it had formerly a weekly market and an annual fair; both have been long discontinued. Annual horse races were also formerly held on Eyam Moor. The hippodrome, or old race course, and sod huts or booths remained in part until the enclosure of the moor.

Before cart-ways were made in the vicinity of Eyam, all articles were conveyed to and fro by horses with packsaddles, and the driver was called jagger. From the necks of the horses bells were suspended, which could be heard at a great distance; always announcing the jagger's return, and creating a smile of joy on the faces of his wife and children.

The Dale, Eyam, the resort of the idle wanderer and the tasteful tourist, furnishes amongst its numerous objects of wonder, a few circumstances of an appalling nature. Nearly a century ago, a boy about sixteen years of age, named Samuel Blackwell, went in haste to obtain some yew to make billets. The yew tree grew on the top of one of the highest rocks in the Dale; and the poor boy in his haste ran down a small declivity to the tree at such a speed, that when there he could not stop himself, but plunged through the branches, to one of which he hung by the heel for a few minutes, and then fell to the bottom, where he was taken up nearly dashed to pieces. The rock is called, to this day, Blackwell's tor.

A little nearer to Middleton, in this singular dale, there is a very extensive cavern, called Caels-wark, in which a Scotch pedlar was found murdered, about fifty years since. The unfortunate man was well known; he had regularly attended the villages in the peak with his wares. The occasion of his murder occurred at Eyam: he had legally stopped some parties for selling goods at the wakes-eve, which so enflamed them with anger, that they followed him at night to the Moon Inn, Stoney Middleton, where they, through the connivance of the landlord, strangled and robbed him, and then carried his corpse into this cavern. About twenty years after, his body was found by Peter Merril, Eyam, who had had a remarkable dream on the subject. Nothing was scarcely known of his murder, until his body was found, when it was removed to Eyam Church, where it lay in a box for a many years, before it was buried.

The buckles of his shoes and other articles of his apparel proved it to be the body of the well-known pedlar; and other circumstances have since transpired in confirmation thereof. The murderers were never brought to justice, although in a great measure known.

Very near the Caelswark is the cavern called the WONDER, which is explored by numberless strangers every year. It was once richly adorned with stalactites of innumerable forms, which have been taken therefrom to the cabinets of the curious. This cavern has communication, with others that are said to extend for miles: at least there are fissures, which pass from the dale under Eyam to that extent: and one of them as far as Bradwell. The Lover's-leap is a very high rock in the dale, from which a love-sick maid, Hannah Baddaley, threw herself, but miraculously sustained very little injury. The Rock-garden was once the greatest object of attraction in this romantic dell: it was the repository of all kinds of fossils, found in the Peak; and their dispersion has been greatly regretted by the inhabitants of Eyam. In this very interesting place is the Merlin - a cavern abounding with wonder; but it is not so often visited on account of its being at times almost filled with water, which appears to rise from some subterraneous cavity. I cannot think of this water without fancying I see the Proteus anguinus.[1] The pristine grandeur of this wonderful dale has been destroyed by the burning of lime, which is now carried on there to a great extent.

The tourist may leave this deep and interesting dingle and ascend an eminence on the opposite side of Eyam, and there behold the greatest contrast in scenery. This eminence is called Rock-Hall, whence may be seen the scattered villages in the dim distance, and endless hills shoulder-lifting the clouds. It is said that with a good glass Lincoln Minster may be seen from this place.

On the arrival of the Pretender, at Macclesfield, in A.D. 1745, the villagers of Eyam were thrown into the greatest consternation: they concealed their furniture and valuables in the mines. One man had his furniture and himself let down into a mine in the Pippin; and the clock struck one while hanging in the shaft: "I'feth", said he, "it would go if 'twere hung in an ash tree".

Much might be said respecting the inclosure of the moor, but it would be dry and uninteresting. There was a former inclosure of what was called the main-field; and the fields still called the "New Closes", were the first enclosed. Some common belonging to Longstone was claimed and obtained by Eyam, in consequence of the people of Longstone refusing to bury a woman who was found dead thereon. The parish of Eyam interred the woman, and claimed the common to the place where the body was found.

The Flora, cattle, land, and fossils of Eyam, are much the same in nature and character as those of the Peak in general. In quantity and excellency of water, Eyam has the advantage of almost every village in Derbyshire: and I have heard it frequently stated that there is a hot spring at the bottom of the New Engine climbing shaft, of supposed sanative properties.

"My task is done; my song hath ceased; my theme
Has died into an echo". - BYRON.


[1] Vide Sir H. Davy's posthumous work, "The Last Days of a Philosopher".

This information was collated and transcribed by Rosemary Lockie in September 2012.

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