Mark Ripley from Barbara Walsh
My g.g.grandfather Mark Ripley was baptised at Hailsham, Sussex on 22.4.1849. Mark had many donkeys and everyone knew him. When a new road came, they wanted it called Donkey Lane, the people only knew it as that because of Mark and his donkeys, but the Council said 'No' and called it Falcon Way
Our Baby Sister from Carol Hoskins
We had a baby sister called Julia and when she was aged about three or four months old she died. I was four at the time, but I can remember Mum putting things in the coffin with her, a little dress and shoes, etc., but she burnt the rest and buried her pram!
Big Tent? - from Ian Orchard
"They say he had an ancestor who married and went to live with her husband in Wales. It's said they went on to have twenty-eight children - must have had a big tent!!"
Queen Victoria and the Gypsies - Mary Horner
For most of her life, Queen Victoria sketched and painted, and over fifty of her albums and sketch pads survive. In 1836, just before she came to the throne, she made friends with a family of Gypsies who became the subject of some of her work. The mother of the tribe was Sarah Cooper and following their meetings, Victoria showed kindness and concern for their welfare. When a baby was born, she sent food and blankets to the family and in 1837 wrote "How often these poor creasures have been falsely accused, cruelly wrong and greatly ill-treated"
Holly Baskets - from Sonny Scarratt
When I was 12 years old, me and my brother made a load of holly baskets to try to make some money for Christmas. We threaded about 36 onto a long branch, put it up on our shoulders and went all round the houses selling them. One women bought four, but only after she'd taken a photo of us holding them all on the stick, she thought it was such an unusual and nice sight!
Another time I wanted some holly to make holly baskets, so during the day I scouted round looking for a tree. I found one with a nice holly and lots of berries that was hanging over the road down a quiet lane. That night I went back with a step ladder on my back, climbed up to the top of the tree and was just leaning out on a branch when I saw a light coming towards me down the road. As it passed beneath me, I could see it was a lady on a bike, so I held my breathe and hung on for dear life until she'd gone well past. By that time I was prickled to death and I don't know how I stopped myself yelling out with pain!
Winter Draughts - from Ian Orchard
My Granny Harriet Penfold said her father used to collect bracken to put around the walls of the tent to keep the draughts out in the winter. She can just remember everyone in the tent - six boys on one side, three or four girls on the other, and parents in the middle!
Hale and Hearty
The residents of Hale were objecting to the presence of a Gypsy encampment, so the Council's Medical Officer was asked to make an inspection with unexpected results! He examined the interior of the tents and vans, but had no complaint to make on sanitary grounds. The Doctor fell in love with some of the children, especially a year-old child who was being washed by his mother, finding himself lost in admiration at the child's perfect form. He later reported back to the Council that "It would be hard to find a healthier lot of children!"
Is it True?
Some Gypsies said that if you saw a black beetle running across the ground, rain was on the way - and they could tell if adders were about because there's always a 'musty' smell!!
Born in a Big Grand Pub
Not all Travellers were born in tents, wagons or under hedges! My Aunt Harriet always told us she was born in "A big grand pub". My Dad said it was true, but didn't know where it was. It was always "Somewhere down in the country" or "Miles away from nowhere", or "At the back of beyond". He never knew names of roads, only one place he knew by name because they stopped there one year working on a farm, most times they were on the road
Homing Bird from Ethel
When I was about eight years old, my family were stopping in wagons in Cwm Bach Wood, Llanelli. When we wanted crisps and things, us children would walk down to a pub at the end of the wood. The man there was called Ben and he also sold chickens and ducks and was nice to us Gypsy children. One day we bought a chicken from him but it went up into the wagon to lay it's eggs. When we grabbed the chicken to throw it out, we must have injured it in some way because it seemed half dead, so we took it back to the man and asked to swap the chicken for a duck. Now Ben must have realised there was something wrong with the chicken, but he agreed we could take a duck and let us choose a nice one with a red comb on its head. So we carried it back to the wood and set if free by the wagons, but it soon flew back home to the man and we realised he must have known that when he let us have it!!!