Cucklet Delph which can be found on the outskirts of the village of Eyam became known as Cucklet church due to the fact that the vicar William Mompesson (1639-1709) wanted to continue to give religious services, but was apprehensive about continuing to use the village church for fear of spreading the plague by having the congregation in a confined space.
The Delph was formed 360 million years when the sea covered this area small creatures known as Brachiopods and Crinoids swam here, and when they died their bodies built up on the sea bed creating the limestone rocks which over thousands of years have eroded and created the Delph which can be seen today.
Every Sunday during the plague the Delph was used by Mompesson to hold services, he would stand in the archway to preach to the villagers standing below on the opposite hillside. Each family group would stand well away from the others so that there would be less chance of spreading the disease if anyone started sneezing.
All gatherings of people were discouraged at the time of the plague and it is for this reason that gravestones can be found scattered throughout the village, many victims were buried close to their homes rather than in the village churchyard.
The following information was found on a website at : www.darkpeakandwhite.com and is as follows :
Emmott Sydnall was a young girl of about twenty two, who lived in a cottage across from Mary Coopers house where the plague started. Her father John Syddall, and four of her siblings, where among the first victims of the disease. Emmott was betrothed to Rowand Torre from Stoney Middleton, a neighbouring village, and according to legend the two would meet secretly during the winter of 1665/1666. At first he would visit her in the village, but when they realised this was too dangerous, they would meet at Cucklet Delph, the river dividing them, minimalising any risk of Rowland catching the disease. In ‘Eyam Plague’ John Clifford also suggests that the two would only have looked at each other “…from a distance, and in silence, lest their plan should be discovered” (Clifford, 2003, p32) When Emmott stopped appearing at Cucklet Delph towards the end of April 1666, Rowland continued to go to their meeting place, with hope that against all odds, she might still show up. He was one of the first people to re-enter the village when it was pronounced safe towards the end of 1666, but was soon told the worst; Emmott Syddall had died in April.
To find Cucklet Church you will need to park in the car park on the opposite side of the road to Eyam Hall. Behind the car park there is a road running alongside a housing estate, follow this road for a short way until you come to a large green electricity box on your left. You will see a signpost for the church and a footpath, follow this and it will lead you across a couple of fields and eventually you will come to the Delph.