I know, I know – I’ve been distracted again! But this time – rare for me – this post is actually topical. I was reading about the history of Cambridge and I came across several stories about when the bubonic plague hit town in the seventeenth century. Well, it had been there before, but the seventeenth century was bad, with dangerous outbreaks in 1610, the 1620s, 1630 and then the big one (the Great Plague, as we all learned in primary school) in the 1660s.
Now I’m baffled as to why more of you don’t sign up for my monthly updates – which elaborate on the historical details behind the books – so this is a bit of a teaser. The update that is scheduled to go out on 1 May is all about plague and pestilence in historical Cambridge, but I won’t tell you much here, apart from a couple of taster highlights:
- The expert at the time was a German “plague doctor” called Dr Milne
- Windows were removed from churches to allow fresh air to blow through
- Forty pest-houses were built on Coldham’s Common, which is still a green area and presumably home to lots of skeletons.
If you’re keen to know more, sign up for the monthly updates! (And if plague is not your bag, the June update features a hot air balloon and a water velocipede – my research is nothing if not wide-ranging.)