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Pestilence Cottage, Old Woodhouse, Leicestershire, built circa 1300

In the middle ages the black rat or "Rattus Rattus" cut a swathe through Europe carrying the Black Death to millions of people. In the seventeenth century it was blamed for spreading the Great Plague of London which killed 70,000.

The black rats' reputation was akin to that of the devil. Bubonic plague was brought to this country from east Asia by fleas. The black rat was merely its means of transport.
[ Prof N Orme, Exeter University ]

Pest Cottage was the haven of Thomas Rawlins when he settled in Old Woodhouse after escaping from the Great Plague of London in 1665. Out of gratitude to the village that had taken him in he started a school for twenty-two poor boys of Old Woodhouse and Woodhouse Eaves. The predominant books of the school were spelling books, grammars and bibles.

The decline of the school was partly due to the low salary which remained at twenty-four pounds a year for the Master all through the 18th century. The last man to take the position lost interest in the school. The decline lasted during the 19th century and it was closed due to lack of support until 1892 when Rawlins School was refounded in Quorn.

The cottage is in School Lane, Old Woodhouse. Photograph taken August 2009.


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 Submitted on: 2009-08-17
 Submitted by: Kathryn Paterson
 Artefact ID: 504
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