NEXT TWO MONTH'S MEETINGS

- 19th September - 8:15 : The Ups & Downs of a Wedding Photographer by John Yarrow.
- 17th October - 8:15 : Healthy Living by Christine Holland.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

GYPSY CULTURE

We always try to prepare an interesting and wide reaching programme for members. On 19th March our speaker was Philip Godliman who spoke with great enthusiasm about the Romany Gypsies who originated in India and Egypt.   They have their own language and Philip gave examples of this.

They lived in Wagons or Vardos and also made up Bender Tents to sleep their family.  They needed to roam freely and were very aware of the countryside and respected it. When they were leaving an area to move on they would clear any rubbish and replace a patch of turf, removed for a fire.  When they left, no-one woul have known they had been there.  Cleanliness was an important issue.  The Romany term "Mokkadi' refers to the rules of washing clothes, themselves and food preparation.  Dogs were never allowed inside the Vardos.

To earn money the women would do Fortune Telling at fairgrounds and seasides.   Also sell wooden clothes pegs, primrose baskets and wooden flowers made by the men.  The men dealt in horse trading and the most important day of the year were the annual horse fairs.  They also did knife grinding door to door.  A way for the whole family to make money was Hop Picking and Fruit Picking.  These ways of making money are no longer available, and the majority of Romany Gypsies now live in houses.   They are the largest ethnic minority in Kent and the South East.

This talk drew people of Romany origin and others  to our meeting and was  generally thought to have been one of the best talks we have had.  

 On 8th April 14 members followed this up by a visit to South East Romany Museum in Marden, to be met by Frank Brazil who is a member of a traditional Romany Gypsy family.  He told us many of the things Philip Godliman had explained and the history of his family.
 The skills leant to build and repair wagons are still being handed down and he showed us some of the wagons they are working on.
 Also the beautifully painted horse drawn carts.  We were able to go into one of the wagons and you could sense the excitement and freedom of that life.
 Frank told us that he was born in a wagon and his Mother's rule for her children was that if they were stopping in one area for more than three weeks the children would go to the local school, if it was less than three weeks they stayed at home and helped the parents.

We left feeling that we had learnt much about a past culture that once brightened up our countryside and hoped that people would continue to keep this history alive.