The Fleas of Eyam & Other Making Poems is Templar's first childrens' book of poetry by Jane Weir and illustrated by her son James, who is himself a tailor in London on Savile Row..
The book tells the tragic story of fleas coming from London on woolen cloth, biting the villagers and bringing The Great Plague to Derbyshire which killed many of the villagers with the disease...
Three hundred and fifty years ago in the year 1665 in a little village called Eyam in Derbyshire, England, a bolt of woollen cloth was brought to the Tailor's house from London. The cloth was damp after its long journey, taken into the house and left to dry by the fire. The fleas, carried by black rats, jumped from the bolt of cloth on to people and animals. The fleas carried the disease in their bites, infecting most but not all who were bitten. It is known as The Great Plague which was devastating the people of Europe and London. Soon after the tailor died, followed by many other people in the village.
The villagers, led by the church leader, William Mompessan, made the brave decision to cut itself off from the outside world, to stop the plague spreading. Houses and buildings in the village were set aside for anyone with the Plague.
By quarantining themselves in Pest Houses the villagers hoped they would save others, even though this might mean they died themselves.
People from outlying villages left food and water at stages outside the parish stones at the boundaries of Eyam, so that the villagers wouldn’t starve or die of thirst. No one came into
contact with the villagers of Eyam.
A year later in 1666 the plague subsided and was thought to be at an end. Out of the 350 villagers living in Eyam at the time of the outbreak 260 had perished.
What became of the fleas no one knows . . .