Previously it had always been a slight disappointment visiting Eyam. That’s probably unfair as it has a lot to offer; the plague history, good walks in the area and tea shops just to name a few. But I have always felt a tinge of disappointment as the sheep roast spit stood empty and usually the doors to Eyam Hall remained closed as I never managed to pick the right opening day. All that changed in 2013 when the National Trust became involved and I had looked forward to the opportunity to visit with the longer opening hours available.
Well thoughts of quiet Jacobean gritstone pailed on arrival into “Party Village” End of August Carnival time!
It is quite difficult to capture the bizarre frivolity that unfolded as we walked around the village. The Matlock marauders seemed as surprised as I was. A riot of motorised floats parading down the main street to the brass band beat, or was it the mexican samba or the whine of the highland pipes. World music in Eyam! More princesses than an Eastenders prom, Laurel and Hardy on a tractor (where else would they be?), a talent bus and a mississippi showboat with an intrepid troupe of cheeky cheerleaders. The occasional vintage car drifted by followed by an animated cluedo board.
We followed the parade, reminiscent of a modern day pied piper, past the plague houses and working sheep roast spit and the obligatory beer tents, into the square. By time the band struck up “Sussex by the Sea” it felt like the right time for a sit down and a restorative cup of tea.
After a moment of hesitation in the square the parade seemed to decide it was the time to parade back up the high street So we followed again. I had the feeling they would parade up and down until the beer ran out or the party momentum was exhausted. It was certainly time for us to duck out.
Oh, what of the Hall? well, relatively subdued and quiet, so looking around the rooms and garden proved to be quite pleasant. It was very pleasing to finally have the chance to look around and have the added bonus of purchasing some Peakland White cheese from the shop in the courtyard.
As I write this I am still wondering if I witnessed all that on a quiet day in Eyam that turned out to be a carnival fiesta. But I have the photos so it must be so!