Gypsy Life

'In tents, cooking over an open fire'

The life is so free. I mean it’s a very hard life, very, very hard. But, the freedom...

Being able to be out in the open and staying in the tents and cooking over an open fire. Going into the hop fields and the vines used to be pulled down… you’d get absolutely soaked first thing in the morning with the dew on them. And the smell, you used to sleep really soundly after being in the hop field because hops really do make you sleep.


Picture of painting 'Gypsy Life' by Sir Alfred Munnings
Painting by Sir Alfred Munnings - 'Gypsy Life c 1920'
Picture of tea making outside next to fire
Image courtesy of Chris Milton - 'Making Tea'

Oh my mum, she made a good stew (Joe Grey).

She’d go and find a few bacon bones and a few potatoes, split peas, pearl barley perhaps, Oxo, a cube in those days, you’d scrape it, break it up and it used to go in. And we’d all have a bellyful you know. Might be more split pea and rice than anything, but if you found a bit of meat, you’d do a lap of honour.

John Butcher

I used to take her dancing nearly every week more or less in the village halls around Kent.

She was allowed she wasn’t my wife yet then - but she was allowed to be there because her cousins was there, her sisters was there, the men cousins, the boy cousins… so they could keep an eye on her and make sure she’d go home at the right time.

Bill Newland

Woman holding basket sat outside
Image courtesy of Mary Penfold - 'Mary Singleton'

Audio Clips

Marya talks about a special gift her family received at Christmas

Lily talks about the contrast between her life and her grand-daughter's

Bill Newland's childhood memories of the local doctor

V sings a song that came through the family

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