Song of the Dell

 

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The Dell (or Delf) is a secluded place, sheltered by trees, just a little south of Eyam. Sermons were delivered to the villagers from a perforated arch in the ivy-mantle rock, also known as the Cucklett Church. The last Sunday in August is called ‘Plague Sunday’ in Eyam, and each year a commemorative service is held to remember the sacrifice of the villagers.

Towards the middle and later end of June the plague began to rage more fearfully, and sermons were held outside in The Dell. Villagers would gather silently as their numbers slowly dwindled, sitting or kneeling on the grass. However, by this time some people were so scared that instead they chose to flee their homes altogether. Desperate, they stayed within the boundary line, but chose to live in the surrounding fields in crude huts, fending for themselves in harsh conditions. They did not attend the sermons, or seek the company of others.

“Weeds sprouted in unchecked gardens, and cattle and crops were left neglected in the fields beyond the boundary line around the village. The village recluse, a man named Merril, moved to a hut on the high ground above Eyam where he lived for months with only a cockerel for company. As he looked down upon Eyam eac day, barely half a mile away, the village already appeared in decay… houses were deserted, doors and window shutter banged in the wind.”

-Except taken from “The Plague and the Fire” by James Leasor.

 

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When the Plague raged at it’s worst, there was no time for funerals. Many victims were buried in their own gardens, or in nearby fields. This picture is of Mrs Hancock, who single handedly buried her husband and six children in the space of just eight days during August 1666. First two of the children died, John and Elizabeth, on the 3rd of August. Four days later, the father John and two more children died – William and Oner. Two days after that, Alice died and then the next day her sister, Ann, died. The only person left was Mrs Hancock, who had no where to hide. She, in her suffering had to carry or drag the corpses of her loved ones, dig a grave and then bury them.

Song of the Dell

If I was the wife, and the soul left behind, If I was the mother of a child.

If I was the man left with nowhere to hide, would I learn to fly?

 

Carry me, through the darkest times. Carry me for a while.

Won’t you carry me, through the unholy hours,

Till I learn to fly, till I learn to fly.

If I were a falling star in the night, If I was the Moon upon high,  If I was the man left with nowhere to hide, would I learn fly?

Carry me, through the darkest times, Carry me for a while. Won’t you carry me, through the unholy hours,

Till I learn to fly, till I learn to fly.

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