Gypsies of the Forest
A chapter taken from Wanderers in the New Forest
By Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Concerning the New Forest Gypsies it has often been said that nearly every forest hovel houses a Gypsy family, since they were all turned out of the forest, and that the forest schools are crowded with their wild dark children. That is all exaggerated, for the Gypsies yet live in their greatest numbers in the compounds where officials persuaded them to go when they were deprive: of their travelling rights in the New Forest, and where over-many of them have lived in confined misery ever since.
There are certainly many Gypsy house-dwellers in the cottage; and old vans pulled into orchards or on plots of land owned by persons friendly to them. But for the old lawless, mysterious Gypsies, those of the shacks and the tents and the sittings-out around the open fires, possessors of the lurcher dogs, the ferrets, pack donkeys, ponies ridden without saddle, one must go to the big compounds in the heart of the forest, not the ones on the fringes of suburbia.
In such places there live yet the descendants from some of the most famous of the old English tribes: the Black Coopers, Smiths, Peters, Hughes, Stanley’s and Witchers; the White Sheens, Wells, Whites and the Does; the Red Turners, Lambs and Pages, fine old Gypsy names, also many others of the lesser-known Gypsy tribes. All of those who I have named were settled or often travelling in, the forest around us. The wildness of the New Forest has always appealed to the Gypsies since they first settled there many centuries ago, possibly as long ago as the fourteenth century. They say they will never leave it, despite all the new official strictures that may come into being against their people.
Those who seek justification for the Gypsies having been deprived of most of their traditional rights, argue that the present cabin dwellers and the families crowded in the compounds are not true Gypsies, but outcasts of mixed blood. They speak falsely, then, and untruthfully! For no Gypsies of purer blood are to be found today anywhere in England or far beyond. The forest Gypsies are my friends and I know them well and they are Romany to their hearts, and remain Romanies even when compelled to live in close association with Mumpers 'the non-Gypsy shack-dwellers, outcasts from the big cities.
True friends of the Gypsies have protested against their vanishing or vanished traditional rights in the New Forest. John Arlott, when writing on 'Save the New Forest', spoke well for them. Brian Vesey Fitzgerald, like Arlott of New Forest stock, has intervened on their behalf many times, and Augustus John has the welfare of the English Gypsies keenly at heart and has always been interested to have news of them and give help. He has had foreign Gypsies camping on his own land on the New Forest border, and himself living near the forest, he knows the Gypsy compounds and deplores them and the policy of such places.
The treatment of the Gypsies was a constant worry in my mind all my time in the New Forest. For I often thought that if the Gypsies, amongst the truest of Nature's children, could be so confined and at least surface-tamed by official policy, what might then in time be done to the forest itself?
I do not forget a walk that I had once with Eiza Cooper, one of my longest-term friends amongst the New Forest Romanies. Her own people call her Black Liz, 'Black' being a Gypsy compliment, meaning a Gypsy of the purest type, the pure black blood, the kawlo ratt. Eiza's uncle, Nehemiah Cooper, who died at near ninety years of age, during my time in the forest, had been the recognized King of the Hampshire Gypsies, and Eiza has racial pride powerful upon her. On our walk she showed to me all the quiet, beautiful and well-chosen sites 'by water and places in the sun ' which had been the old camps of her pony-trading family when they had possessed the freedom of the New Forest.
I was touched when she pointed out to me as one of her family's places, the very hillside hollow where my children and I had found the old nomad camp remains, with the pile of faggots. I told Eiza about our find and she smiled and said that it would have belonged to some of the Coopers as they had always stayed there for the winters.
Having shown to me those places of the Gypsies' own choice, she had next pointed out sites allotted by the former forest officials, after the great Gypsy banishment. All the places that I saw looked as mud-bound as had been Millersford Bottom, that strange water-surrounded shack-town and the first Gypsy compound I came to know on the Fordingbridge side of the New Forest. 'Bottoms' or valleys divide the heaths of the New Forest.
Often when spring comes, Gypsy families steal back into the forest 'to be among the green places agen'. If they are found (and they usually are, for the forest has many informers against them, and there is the supervision of the Verderers) they are sent back to their compounds and heavy fines are inflicted on them. Discussing this fact with the Forest officials, I was told that the Gypsies who can prove their New Forest ancestry are allowed limited camping rights in the Forest. This, however, seems to me to be more theory than true fact.
One fact I learnt about the forest Gypsies, and was sorry to know about it, was that of racial shame. This was more prevalent amongst the settled Gypsy families, and I had met with it earlier when I lived across the forest Brockenhurst way. Amongst them then it required months of friendship before the possessors of Gypsy blood would admit the truth. They were proud enough of the Black Blood once the confessions had been made. In their early days in England, their lawlessness created hostility amongst the non Gypsies, and often decrees had been passed for the hanging of all persons known to be Gypsy 'there are old Romany laments concerning this 'and the secrecy as to being of the outlawed race might have had its beginning that long ago.
The more settled and house-dwelling that the English Gypsies became, the more they seemed to feel the handicap of being a racial minority. Their feelings might have been unjustified on some counts, but with the bans in force against the pulling-in of their vans, found almost throughout the British Isles, and many other anti-Gypsy or general anti-nomad laws, it was to be expected that the present generations of those people should seek to conceal their origin and often end all Gypsy association.
The house-dwelling Gypsy girls of suburbia, who work in factories, cut off their plaits, and paint their lips and nails often, marry a non-Gypsy husband, who frequently does not want them to associate with the Gypsy parents. That is the modern Gypsy lament in place of the ancient ones concerning the hanging of the Romanies.
However, when the Gypsies remain really free, in Spain and Turkey for instance, I have usually found fierce racial pride in place of the secrecy and the shame met with in many other lands. I think then that it is treatment received which creates the pride or the shame amongst the Romanies.
If only the Gypsies themselves appreciated what it means to be a Romany. Why, it means usually physical beauty and virility, special gifts of music, dancing and singing, of healing and prophecy, a way with animals and a kinship with Nature that few other races, apart from the Bedouin Arabs, can ever possess. One day the Gypsy race, despite or perhaps because of persecution, will return to its former power and have again its kings and dukes and princes, its wonderful dogs and falcons and horses.
Meanwhile kings and artists and poets have loved the Gypsies and often been influenced by them. Augustus John declared to me that it is obvious that Shakespeare fell in love with a Gypsy woman and that the 'dark lady' of his Sonnets was a Gypsy.
Today, then, the New Forest Gypsies wear ordinary drab clothes now much prevailing in the English countryside, where drabness has become esteemed as respectability, and they further, with ashen powder, seek to conceal the natural swartness of their skin; they have almost ceased to speak their Romany language even amongst themselves, although it is one of their tribal laws that parents should instruct their children in their language. Only they still love their good ear-rings, and the old women also their fancy brooches, and they will all adorn themselves again in their former finery which they wear like artists, when they are alone in their family festivals, especially for their marriages and births.
The Gypsy men continue to cling pathetically to the neck-scarf, the dicklow, almost a badge of their race for the males, from the youths to the old men.
Also I learnt from Eiza Cooper that the New Forest Gypsy children mostly get two names, one gawje (non-Gypsy) plain, for school and work, and one Romany for the family. So that at school one gets Amy, Edie, Henry, Bill, Tommy, at home, Trinity, Liberty, Freedom, Levi, Reuben, Jasper, Whiskey, Trafalgar, Euphonius. They also frequently use two surnames as they travel, to confuse the police and other officials.
A school-mistress friend, Olive Potter, who has sympathy for the New Forest Gypsies and is liked by them, told me that at classes where she taught in forest schools, it was frequent for a jetty-haired, jetty-eyed, swarthy Gypsy child, to raise a hand and protest concerning a bench-mate.
'Please, Miss, 'e called me a Gypsy!'
'Please, Miss, 'e called me a Gypsy'! What a tragedy in that crying protest. I was therefore thankful to find contrasting racial pride in such as Eiza Cooper and Kathleen Peters when they visited me at my cottage. My photograph of Eiza is in this forest book. It is difficult to get a forest Gypsy photograph today; they mostly do not want to have themselves or their children shown as 'Gypsies', and they send their children to be photographed in the cheap studios or have the visiting school photographer take pictures, thus avoiding Gypsy background or association.
But Eiza Cooper, with her grey-streaked, wiry, black hair, worn in two pigtails and yet a grandmother, was pleased to be a Gypsy 'a Needy, as they call themselves in the New Forest and other southern counties of England. Likewise was Kathleen Peters proud and most members of those two families, and others of the oldest Gypsy families.
Eiza told me once that, being a Gypsy, her favourite way of spending her time would be out in the forest by a big wood fire, a hook and a ball of string with her, making rabbit nets and smoking 'baccy'. Her choice seemed pathetic considering what unnatural disease had done to the forest rabbit population, and the present-day price of 'baccy' which made it almost prohibitive for the Gypsies unless they had well-paid employment, which Eiza had not, as she worked mostly by herself as a collector of rags since the death of her pony-trader husband.
Her husband had died years before I met her, and her telling of his death was typical of the old Gypsy woman, for she informed me that her husband Oliver had foreseen his own death when he was in hale health and several weeks before he was taken from her. Twas an angel that took 'im, you see!'
Eiza explained further: 'Me 'usband Oliver wakened me one night to tell that there be a pretty man sittin' at the end of 'is bed, smilin' at 'im an' beckonin' at 'im.' She said she tried to talk him out of such an idea, but he persisted as to the angel being there, though at that time he was only calling him a pretty man.
"Not 'arf as pretty as thee," I tried teasin' 'im. For 'e was a rare-lookin' man wi' black curlin' bal (hair).' Eiza flicked tears from her deep eyes. She was a highly sensitive woman and a deeply loving one 'as I knew later when she was separated from one of her sons. 'That angel took 'im then only a short time afterwards though 'e'd not been sickenin' fer anythin' afore.'
The Gypsies were usually in my life for important occasions, whether in England or elsewhere. I was touched by some of the Sheens coming from far Millersford Bottom compound to the New Forest registrar's office wedding, at Ringwood, of Francisco Lancha Dominguez and me, at a time when all the forest was snowbound, the Sheens having tramped through miles of snow, bringing with them Gypsy home-made confetti, created from paper artificial flowers cut up into small pieces.
Some of the best artificial flowers I have seen anywhere, even including Spain where artificial flower-making is quite an industry amongst the Gypsies, are made by the New Forest Romanies: colours taken from the New Forest sunsets over the moor, they say, and shapes which their own deft hands decide for them as they work on the paper, plain or waxed.
In the forest they paint tips and stripes further on to the coloured papers and use also dyed beeswax or wax from coloured candles, very skillfully, for dipping in the whole flowers or pressing the wax into shapes of buds or berries. In place of the commonly used sprays of box hedge leaves, they make holders for the paper flower heads, from branches of the wild broom, or butcher's broom, bog myrtle and cotton grass.
One wedding gift from the Gypsies to Francisco and me was a forest article which they often made and sold, a plant-holder formed like a small, square, lattice basket from willow or ash twigs held with wire. This, after being moss lined and filled with soil, has a forest fern usually added, one of the miniature kinds found growing in the disused rabbit burrows, or a wild primrose plant set in it, or a clump of the scented white or purple hedge violets, or wild orchids.
Our marriage month was with the snowdrops, but the forest Gypsies, although they bunch and sell quantities from the woodlands, will never have them in their own vans or shacks, believing that snowdrops are not lucky indoors. Therefore, instead of snowdrops, we were given some sprays of the winter cottage jasmine, which looked very attractive against the silver-white wood of the lattice basket, and Francisco and I were very pleased with our Gypsy gift.
My husband shares my sympathy for the Gypsies and during his stay in the New Forest he came to know many of them. We went to Millersford Bottom and drank ginger beer with Granny Sheen and saw her collection of strange, faded, photos of Gypsy types or half-Gypsy types, which was always the programme when I visited Granny Sheen, kind and wise old traveller. My husband loved the old Gypsy bell-type tents, still found in use there, with a hole at the top in order to house a fire within the tents. It was since meeting the New Forest Romanies that Francisco began to write a new type of article for the Spanish journals, Gypsy themes, and sold them more easily than his previous journalistic work, usually concerning the bull-fights or the theatre.
I was sad that Francisco never met Eiza, but it was always wild weather when he was in England, and despite getting to Millersford several times through the snow deep upon the forest, we always found Eiza was out from the compound, 'wooding', one of her favourite occupations and appropriate at that snow-possessed and frost time.
He had especially wanted to meet Eiza because of the gift of prophecy possessed by her and other members of the 'Black Coopers' family, both nowadays and back into their history.
There was, for instance, the remarkable prophecy of Granny Caroline Cooper, of Eiza's direct family, concerning the ploughman's crock of gold. I heard accounts of this from foresters independently of Eiza herself.
Granny Cooper had been on one of her rounds with her basket, selling things, bartering and gathering, also advising on herbal cures for which she was much esteemed throughout Wessex. Then at Bishopstone, near Salisbury, she was asked to read the hands of a ploughman and his wife. She foretold that the man would soon be so rich he would have no need to plough another furrow.
Very soon after the Gypsy's visit, the man, while ploughing, felt a blade strike something; searching then, he found a crock filled with gold pieces. I do not know about treasure-trove and what the ploughman therefore gained, but it is told that he had no need to plough again, nor did the Gypsy lack reward for her prophecy.
Eiza had had her own experience of forest treasure. She related this to me with her usual childlike truthfulness and simplicity. Other Coopers far across the forest at Thorney Hill, spoke about Eiza's find to Jenny Vize: aged about seventy-five to eighty, they remembered it well. Her family had been employed in the turnip fields near Broome, hoeing turnips. She was aged nearly six then and had left work to play away with her brother several years older than herself. They met a lady ''fair but strange seeming', and Eiza had then pointed to her head to indicate that all had not been normal about that lady met with near Broome when turnip hoeing. The lady furthermore had been strangely dressed, 'in ol' fashun way, wearin' a big straw 'at, such as the gawje gentry sometimes wear, an' 'er face perculer white beneath it, an' her clothes peculiar wi' a glisten upon 'em never seen afore. But she was gentle lookin' but rather 'azy an' a bit frantic, me brother an' me weren't at all trashed (frightened) of 'er.'
Eiza then told how she and her brother were taken by the lady to a place near where they had met her, and told to dig there. They did not do so as they had nothing to dig with, but ran and told their family about their strange encounter, and they then brought their hoes to the place. The lady had gone, but after they had dug around for a short while in the place shown to them, a box was found containing some pieces of old money and jewellery of not much value. (I wonder now if the strange links bracelet which Eiza later gave to Georges Brunon, the French painter, could have come from there.)
Eiza further commented that that phantom lady had been 'one of the kind ones', only troubled and unable to be at peace because things which she had hidden remained unfound and she wanted needy people to have them. After the finding no doubt the lady would ' 'ave a-gone back to the graveyard or biyonder.'
Finally Eiza had explained that it was the thought of dead souls being kept back on the earth by longings for things which they had valued, which was the cause of the well known Gypsy custom of destroying by fire all possessions of dead Gypsies, except for the few personal things such as a favourite toy of a child, or rings and ear-rings of men and women. But the vans are fired, crockery smashed with the iron kettle rods, horses and dogs killed. Horses and dogs are now few amongst the present-day Gypsies of the New Forest, now that they are confined in the compounds, but Eiza mentioned them and said that the horses were killed in a good, quick way ''wi' a 'uman killer' (humanekiller!).
One old Gypsy van-dweller died whilst I was at Abbots Well. That was the deaf and dumb Robert Cooper, and as he was a brother of the late Nehemiah Cooper, former King of the Hampshire Gypsies, he was given a semi-royal funeral by the Romanies and his death and funeral were reported in several of the Wessex journals.
'Gypsy King's brother buried. Nearly one hundred Gypsies at Wilton funeral.' (Eiza told me they were far more there.) 'The proud Gypsies all in funeral black formed a long procession and gravely followed the hearse to the Parish Church where the Rev. W. E. Drury conducted the service. ... In the old days the last rites included an ancient ceremony, that of burning the caravan, but in view of modern accommodation shortages this is no longer practiced.'
Eiza was scornful about that part of the newspaper reports which informed that the dead Gypsy's van was not burnt. 'They's not to know all that us do,' she declared. 'We 'ad our own gatherin' the followin' day, an none o' they around, an' certin us burnt 'is vardo.'
As to funeral black, that was truly reported, for the Gypsies are very strict about this, and before every funeral they go around the homes of persons they know, borrowing 'somethin' funeral black'. For they do not like to keep black clothes around, and feel that it is luckier to borrow.
Wylders, the Fordingbridge florists, told me that for almost every Gypsy funeral of the district, a posy of the best flowers is ordered from them for placing in the hands of the dead Gypsy within the coffin, and no expense spared.
Granny Sheen's posy for her coffin was the occasion which caused Wylder's to speak of this to me.
Eiza told me about her own wreath for her Uncle Robert Cooper's funeral. She had been entirely without money to buy flowers and no wild ones to be had around her then, therefore she had made one of best artificial, melting down her only candle to glaze the flowers and make them weather-proof.
For she had loved the deaf and dumb 'Old Fuffel', as the forest children, who also had had much affection for the old Gypsy, used to call him.
At the time of his death Robert Cooper had on him a piece of cake, given him by a lady in a nearby house, which he was keeping as always for the children, who were his delight.
Eiza had further explained that artificial flowers are really best for the cemeteries because of the wind and the rain which 'seem always to bide over those places'.
Wilton has become the accepted burial place for the local forest Gypsies, ever since a Gypsy boy killed in an accident was buried there, and the mourning Gypsies were very kindly treated by the Church and the local people, so it is told. But there are Gypsy graves also at Wood Green, another Gypsy stronghold, part of which was 'and still is in places 'squatters' land, and which once had a name for being 'a terrible wild place', with frequent bloody fights between poachers and Gypsies and gamekeepers and Gypsies. Two crosses of stone, pressed flat into the forest loam, mark the graves of two Gypsies killed in a fight there, and many more had secret burials.
The Gypsies are solemn over funerals, but for other occasions, betrothals, marriages and births, they are very gay and sing and dance with abandon. The men take opportunity to get drunk, which brings on the frequent fights and gets the forest Gypsies banned from many of the local inns, so that there remain now only a handful of forest inns where the Gypsies are welcomed; amongst the welcoming inns where I have been with the Gypsies are The Trusty Servant at Minstead, The Crown at Bransgore and The Bear and Ragged Staff at Romsey. There had been a recent severe fight at The Crown between two hostile forest Gypsy families, the Black Hughes against the Black Coopers, fighting with sticks and bottles, and the police called in to save much damage in the inn; only in fairness to the Gypsies, the ban on entry then imposed only extended to the two families involved in the trouble.
In company with artist friends, the Vizes and Berlins, I have had memorable evenings in the forest inns with Gypsies gathering there. The dark faces thronging, the women and men singing, perfect Gypsy singing when it was the deep mannish voices of the handsome Lamb sisters, with their father the dark Jimmy as a Romany choirmaster, helping his daughters with the words when they forgot them. Sometimes Christopher Charman came with his guitar and country songs.
Such scenes, with the dark people wearing their finery, there being no racial secrecy evident in those gatherings, looked like a place in a foreign land more than a small English inn; there was a strange pulse beat in the air, always exciting to experience, and I have never met with the like, at least not in Europe, except in the company of the Bohemians.
New Year's Eve spent that way, with the foresters holding hands with the Gypsies when the midnight hour came, and all singing Auld Lang Syne, and everyone then kissing everyone!
One evening at The Crown I became acquainted with Gypsy Granny Walters. She spoke to me of the time at Epsom races when she and her sisters were asked by King Edward VII himself to dance beneath the grandstand where he had his party. Shaking tambourines, and dressed 'all colours of the rainbow', the Gypsy girls danced beneath a shower of coins, including many sovereigns flung down to them by the royal party. Granny Walters remembered the past happy days when she and her sisters would take fifty pounds a day dancing at the race meetings.
The old Gypsy concluded our conversation by dancing some steps for me, inspired then by Christopher's guitar playing and he singing Green Broom, a song always close to the Romanies.
She wore a rusty black hat with curls of wiry grey hair pressing beneath, and big pins ornamenting the crown, brass ear-rings glinting amongst her hair, an old riding habit type of coat and long skirts. Lifting up the skirts as she danced an old step-dance, she showed the legs which had once delighted a king.
The singing of the English Gypsy men is usually a disappointment, especially when contrasted to the romantic beauty of Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish and many French Gypsy singers. I found the English mostly raucous and bawdy and I never wanted to hear much of it.
In contrast many of the English Gypsy women sing with the lilting sweetness of the woodlarks 'of which the New Forest is a strong-hold of those melodious birds who sing on the wing ' and I loved to hear the women singing into the night over the hatches of their van doors or from the doorways of their shacks.
The Lamb sisters, especially Emma, possess amongst the finest voices of any of the forest Gypsies who I met at the inns. They attract a big audience including the foresters and get well applauded. They wear gaudy clothes and I have seen them with pieces of picture chains around their strong, full-throated necks, when short of other ornament.
Eiza Cooper told me how once she and her many brothers and sisters were commissioned by a Romany Rye (a Gypsy lover) to sing for him 'Danny Boy', throughout in Romany. Her mother dressed them all in white frocks, the boys and the girls, clothing borrowed for the occasion, and the rye presented each one of the large family with a silver five-shilling piece.
Many of the Cooper family came to visit me at Abbots Well. In my cottage there they showed no sign of any racial secrecy or shame; we were certainly Gypsies together. I think they sensed that I was a Gypsy, not only in my ways but also probably by blood on the Turkish side of my family, with their love for horses and camels and the greyhound type of dogs, then liking also the company of flamenco singers and dancers 'that especially true of my father 'and interest in herbs and even in magic! And certainly I lived like a Gypsy, always outside my cottage until nightfall or it poured rain or blew snow; and writing sitting on the ground, unable to work at all confined on a wooden chair, eating our meals sitting on the ground, and my children were dressed 'no better' than any of my Gypsy visitors, indeed my children wore no clothes at all whenever there was any sunlight to bronze their bodies the golden colour that I like to see healthy children's bodies.
Therefore in my cottage the Gypsies were easy, and I was happy to have them. They shared many a meal with us, and, unasked, did helpful small tasks for me which their thoughtful hearts found around them. Rafik and Luz always enjoyed their visits, and Rafik’s first love was a dark Gypsy child called Julie Cooper! Then he had another love which was old Eiza.
'I love you, Eiza,' he would declare from his heart to this old Gypsy friend as he embraced her.
'An' I loves you too, mi bitti Romany rom (my little Gypsy man),' Eiza would reply as she returned the frequent embraces of the small boy, who was fascinated by the dark, outlandish looks of the Gypsy, her ragged clothes, her habit of appearing suddenly out of the forest when moments ago there had been no person within sight, and then the interesting things about which she spoke in the deep, rough voice, peculiar to Gypsy women.
Eiza's eldest daughter Amy, came, bringing a big willow basket filled with hazel nuts from the forest, holding a supply in her hands also, and cracking them expertly with her strong teeth as she chatted with my children and me. She with her face the golden brown of the nuts that she brought to us, with the flesh over the high cheek-bones pink as the heather bloom, that pink overlaid upon the brown and the handsome, laughing, face, surrounded by the plaited and blue-black looped hair: Indian hair!
Amy Cooper was a Romany beauty herself, and the mother of a family which I think were approaching ten children by the time that I left Abbots Well. There were Romany beauties also amongst her daughters.
I have told how Edie Cooper, who was Amy's daughter, caught a wild duck by leaping, wearing all of her clothes, into a pond; but most memorable of the daughters for me there was Jean.
Augustus John remarked to me concerning Jean, how he had seen a young girl leaving Ringwood cinema, who must have been from a travelling Gypsy family passing through the town, there being such a shy, wild, air about her, as if a creature from the woods. That could only have been Jean Cooper, who belonged so much to the forest that she could only tolerate work in the fields as her father worked, and who had found a fox cub and tamed it herself, and ages after she had let it go back into freedom in the forest could have it instantly at her side, as loving as a dog, for the mere whistling to it. Those long-shaped, deep, true- Gypsy eyes of the girl were perfection in the dusky, oval, face, shaded with the ungroomed hair, dark yet glinting-gold like a wood-copse into which sunlight filters. Those people would have made wonderful artist's models to give the true Gypsy type, but all were too shy to consider such work. As they each told me when I tried to persuade them to pose for artist friends ''Us might be asked to take our clothes off us!'
Jean, dancing in front of an open wood fire one evening in the family shack, showing off to her mother her new long-skirted Christmas dress, caught the flames against the flimsy material, and was taken away to hospital, badly burnt. She recovered, but the scars and the fear remain. Such frequent burning accidents amongst the Gypsy people used to outdoor fires, seems to me to be one of the tragedies of their enforced stay in the wooden shacks and tin Nissen dwellings. Scaldings are also numerous amongst them as they remain in the confined places unnatural to them and also frequently crowded with the many children that it is against their tribal laws to limit.
I observed with interest, that when they do cook indoors 'and many of them continue to cook outside in the open 'they take the tops off the usual cooking range and have the fire as open as possible for their traditional great round iron cooking pots.
They use wood mostly for their fuel but they consider pieces of coal found on the roadway to possess lucky properties. Kathleen Peters told me about that first, and then, when I was living in the New Forest and had to defend myself and my herbal work in a lawsuit, I had scores of Gypsy friends all visiting me before the case was due and bringing me chips of coal which they had found.
The case turned out to be quite favourable and all that the Gypsies had foretold came to pass.
When I purchased an ugly, old second-hand cast-iron boiler from Johnny Horsburgh, to heat water for my children's baths when the pond was frozen and the brooks flowed ice, it was Eiza, who baptized it for me, collecting and pouring into it the seven gallons of water that it held and lighting our first fire to boil n 'The Family Friend', as its makers had cast its name upon it, could burn wood for the water-heating material and that was very useful as it could take the furze faggots, as well as all the other forest wood littered around us.
By our second year at the cottage, our landlord provided us with a small bathroom and a better method of water-heating than 'The Family Friend', and I sold that boiler to some travelling Gypsy scrap-iron dealers who drove by my gate, and who when I called to them to stay, presented me with a memorable finger marked and tattered sales card which read for me like a poem. The children and I often had it out later and I read it further to them.
'OLD RAGS, BRASS, COPPER, ETC. WE ALSO BUY old mangles, fire-grates, stoves, boilers and any old iron. Geysers and gas-coppers, old pewter mugs, teapots and candlesticks, copper kettles, warming pans and scrap gold and silver.'
A true Gypsy poem which we liked and was sung in the New Forest for Christmas was:
The roads are very dirty; my shoes are very thin,
I have a little pocket to put my money in.
Your pocket full of money,
Your cellar full of beer,
I wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
The Gypsy scrap merchants travelled in a van which rattled much from both age and the scrap collected within it; it also bulged with merry children. A big grizzly lurcher bitch added to the overcrowding.
On the second visit I showed the scrap people my collection of Gypsy photographs which I had taken and they were very pleased and entertained, especially the old grandmother who seemed of purer Romany blood than the rest of the family.
Tears showed in her dark old eyes when she gave the photos back to me, and she excused herself by saying that it had been good to see the many Romanies when she had believed that her people were all dying away, with their vans kept off the roads by the laws and more laws against the owning of their dogs, and laws against the begetting of Romany children might be coming along one day soon.
After seeing the photos she asked to read my hand, which she did with true skill. I, to return the compliment, then read hers.
Gypsy strangers meeting will often take up the stranger’s hand and dukker (do a reading); a hand will tell more than the look of a face or the clothes worn. The old lady's hand, wrinkled and horny but yet quick with life, was peculiar for her having her finger-nails painted a glaring pink, nail painting not much doss amongst the Needles. That hand was not very interesting; it seemed that for the rest of her long life she would be going op and down the roads of England seeking those things of which her family had made unknowingly a poem on their sales card: hard toil to the end of her days, I saw, and her peace troubled by quarrels amongst her many grown children and her grandchildren.
Eiza called on me once when the scrap people were also visiting me and she did not approve of them, telling me that they were low didikaies, the half-breed Gypsy travellers which the pure Gypsy scorns, but who are increasing in numbers in England with the old Gypsy families being forced from the diminishing countryside, and marrying then with their town neighbours.
What impressed me about the change from Gypsy nomad life on the wild heaths to shack life in suburbia or slum-dwelling in the towns was that the Romany women lost one of their true -characteristics, the ability to give birth to their babies with the ease of the fox vixen littering her cubs in the forest. The modem Romany woman goes into hospital for the birth of her baby and suffers a birth often as difficult and complicated as endured by the non-Gypsy woman from suburbia or town who does not take natural exercise or eat natural foods. There is a place on the moorland along Godshill ridge where grows a massive holly tree, around whose roots and beneath whose ample winddefying shelter, it is known that in former times many Gypsy babies were born to their mothers who went to that place alone when their time came.
A musician friend, Pauline, went into a Hampshire hospital for the birth of a baby, and told me about the coming of a Gypsy woman from the forest, into the maternity ward there. Many of the inmates seemed ill pleased, and Pauline had the woman put into the bed next to her. Pauline described how the Gypsy looked, 'like someone come from another world'.
The look of the fine-featured brown face with its prominent cheekbones and the dark, deep eyes, and the expression over the face so passive that she looked carven from dark wood and resembled much the figurehead of an old ship. The Gypsy gave birth to a boy and was visited by her husband dressed in his best clothes distinguished with bright scarf around neck, and bringing a bouquet of forest flowers which was the envy of all the women in the ward! The ward soon found that they liked having the Gypsy there, with her quietness and her old beauty and the wild flowers that came to her.
In one way the Gypsies have not changed; they may be giving birth to their children now in the town hospitals but they continue to have very many of them. As the scrap merchants' van bulged with merry children so likewise bulged the shacks now occupied by the forest Gypsies. It was raw Gypsy life that I saw on a visit to the new compound at Ibsley in the forest, to where many Gypsy families had been transferred from Millersford Bottom, since condemned as unfit land, finding new homes in the disused huts of a former Air Force base there.
Around Amy Cooper's hut played a mob of children aged from one year upwards, with seemingly little more than a year's span between each child. Beautiful they all were, with the dark flesh, the hoods of indigo hair through the fringes of which the eyes gleamed black and shining as the cherry fruits from the trees of Wood Green. Half naked, they rolled on the leafy ground in the autumn sunlight in company with a litter of black and grey piglets. Close by on the ground, also in the sunlight, the father of the human children lay asleep, his cap pulled over his eyes to keep out the bright light.
Jenny Vize, an artist, painting mostly Gypsy life, also saw the Gypsy chauvi amongst the piglets at Ibsley compound and told me she would paint them.
The success of Jenny Vize as a Gypsy artist was very exciting for me; I think that she is one more person who possesses Gypsy blood, for she gathers wild things from the forest with my own keenness, feeling that same urgent need to search and gather from the surrounding countryside. I know she hungers for sunlight and has great difficulty in staying indoors at all to do housework.
From the first time that I discovered Jenny's pictures I became a sort of patron of hers. Before then she was not painting Gypsies, but even so her work was of a strange nature. Patrons should give financial help, I believe; I could give nothing more than encouragement and introductions to the Gypsies who were pleased to have the friendship of such a warm-hearted and gifted person. Indeed Jenny, having a car, was soon visiting more Gypsies than I had time to manage to do, and it was all for the good of her work. The forest Romanies loved the Vize land on Chilly Hill with its coppice of firs and its old thorn trees, a place of owls and curlews and wild pony land.
The Gypsies in former days had gone there for wild garlic, also camped around that hill, for as old Benny Wells said, 'There be no bitta rickeno poov (piece of beautiful earth) in the forest, finer than Chilly Hill. From there a Gypsy can see the sun rise and the sun set, and what more can a Gypsy want!'
We did find time to visit many Romany families and compounds together. I especially remember our visit to the Lights. Mr. Light was embittered because he was convinced that a Gypsy curse had killed his first three sons.
His story, too personal and involved to put into a book, seemed to me to have been a true example of the deep Gypsy curse.
The curse had been lifted at the time that I first met him, a dark little man in a big hat, who was very pleased to show me the collection of ornaments which he had amassed outside his van, nearly a thousand of them. The ornaments made a bizarre sight seen in the fading light of a forest evening against a setting of dark trees and shrubs. Of the vast collection, and all of them painted over with silver, the one which had the most attraction for me was a little toy monkey dressed in the clothes of a clown.
I have only seen similar in southern Spain, where the same little monkey figures dressed as clowns, when wound up with a key, played one or other of the instruments which they were holding, toy violin, cymbals, drum. The monkey outside the Lights' van held a violin, and I expect that its origin had been Spain, before it had found its way into that collection of ornaments in the Hampshire forest. One of the Light sons, born after the curse, had a market garden nearby, which we visited. There, Gypsy-true, scorning things modern, he cultivated his plants by Nature methods, no artificial fertilizers used, no chemical poison insecticides. And what superb produce that Gypsy grew! Tomatoes and cucumbers I have never tasted better, not even in countries where they grow yet more naturally in the strong sunlight.
I also took away a box of pansy roots, and I massed them around the base of a white lilac tree, and what pleasure those Gypsy pansies gave to me all the time until I left Abbots Well, with their beautiful and brilliant colours and their almost perpetual flowering!
I remember also a visit to a Gypsy dwelling right across the forest, to which we were invited one evening. A rough shack with a fire of heather roots smoldering on the earthen floor, and a semicircle of broken beds with brass fittings. A candle was the only fight apart from the glimmer of the fire. There was one bed raised on a sort of platform, and our Gypsy host waved his hand towards that and said that there was a honeymoon couple in there and not to bother about them, they would be there for days! After that information, titters of laughter from the bed, and two heads were raised, Gypsy heads.
The young woman was beautiful with masses of dusky hair, the youth with her, plain faced and sandy of hair and over-big of nose. Then the heads were lowered back on to the bed, 'Good evenings' were called out to us, and we saw no more of them as we talked with the rest of the family about herbs and ponies and so forth and were given drinks of strong tea in large enamel mugs. We sat the evening out on a central bed, as a large lurcher dog occupied the only chair, and no one considered moving him.
The whole family entered their dwelling in and out of a quite high window, as it overlooked the path and was a quicker way than using the one door at the rear! They used a chair inside to mount up to the window, and then jumped the height down into the garden. It all seemed a bit strange and I nearly broke an ankle, jumping.
When the Wessex biannual art exhibition was held, Jenny Vize entered two oil paintings of Gypsies, a family group, man, woman and child, and a van interior, with figures against the light of a fire-stove. Both pictures were accepted: and then came the deserved success. Jenny had used her Welsh origin name of Eryl Vize, and had written the Romany titles beneath the English ones.
Salisbury, Southampton and other West Country journals, carried headlines concerning the art exhibition: 'Forest Gypsy Steals the Show.' The critics thought that Eryl Vize was a man and a Gypsy. The two pictures were photographed and appeared in many journals and brought offers from London galleries for exhibiting them there.
Months before the Wessex exhibition I had introduced Jenny and her work to Augustus John. Later he purchased one of her Gypsy sketches for himself, and that was greater happiness for her than the exhibition success.
Like myself, Jenny has young children to take up most of her time. Her painting hours were therefore restricted and she painted mostly in the night-time after her three children had gone to bed. The bad light then seemed to have no ill effect on her painting, for it is the glowing and unusual colours of her work which are amongst the qualities which I most admire and the critics have praised. Jenny feels that the night painting does not interfere with her way of portraying from memory the Gypsies and the Gypsy scenes which she has found in the forest; her feeling is that painting also from imagination, it makes it easier for her to catch the Romany spirit. That was also how I used to see Georges Brunon from Paris, painting the Gypsies of Granada, although he used his pencil-sketches book to help him.
In the following Wessex biannual exhibition, Eryl Vize had three Gypsy pictures hung. I remember the excitement later when she took one of those pictures to show Gypsy friends gathered in The Crown Inn at Bransgore. She showed her picture of Gypsies in a compound, and the always critical Gypsies were enthusiastic about the way the artist had put their people on to her canvas. The dark-haired and the russet-haired Romany men and women of the New Forest, closed around the artist and her picture, they all laughing and excited and pleased, the women's ear-rings and necklaces jingling and catching the lamp-light as they tossed their heads in their excitement.
And so truly had Jenny portrayed the spirit of the forest Gypsies, that the groups were all recognizing their own family in the figure of the Gypsy woman with a baby in her arms.
The keenest claimant to family blood-ties with the painting, seemed to be a very dark Gypsy man, swearing that it was of his mother, the beautiful Selina Hughes, now dead.
I am thankful that Jenny Vize is painting the spirit of the New Forest Gypsies and painting so powerfully, that she will keep alive the old Gypsy beauty that the compounds are crushing out of existence. Like my friend Georges Jardin in Provence, who lives amongst the Gypsies there and knows them in all their moods: both are chroniclers of Gypsy life.
There was another exciting art event in the New Forest which turned into a Gypsy gathering, when there was a joint exhibition of the paintings of Sven and Juanita Berlin at the Bladon Gallery near Andover, with Augustus John opening the exhibition. Sven's pictures were mostly of the New Forest Gypsies, and they came in a group to see themselves in the paintings: Juanita's work was primarily horses and other animals. Between them the two artists had managed a large and varied collection which included some sculpture. Looking down on the exhibition from the upper gallery of the Bladon building, I remember that the glow of colour produced by the paintings, which reached my eyes there, reminded me of a flower market which I had visited at Avignon one springtime in Provence. And most of those paintings and drawings by the two artist forest-dwellers had been done under the difficulties of caravan living or outdoors in a climate generally blowing wind and rain. All the critics praised the excellent and original work, and there were many buyers.
As for the two artists themselves as I saw them at their exhibition. There was the big figure of the dark Sven, in a dark felt wide-brimmed hat, gamekeeper-like clothes of beech mast brown corduroy jacket and trousers, high leather boots; a warm and friendly personality.
Juanita, a very Gypsy-like figure, with her long black hair falling over her orange coat, with her ear-rings made from short strings of Victorian farthings glinting through the hair; horse brasses for her jewellery with further a coral necklace from which hung a strange, old coin thought to be of ancient Russian origin, the approximate size of the former English five-shilling piece, but dug up in the New Forest by a Gypsy, and presented to Juanita by the finder. Yet despite the flamboyant clothes, which I admired, the artist's personality was quiet and shy.
At that Bladon Gallery opening, Augustus John had the New Forest Gypsies gathered around him. 'Sir Gustus' is their own name for him, given in respect and friendship. He sincerely looks after their interests, both as president of The Gypsy Lore Society of international influence, and as their friend. John's big figure towered above the forest Gypsy group. His hair, greying now, pushed beneath his dark blue beret, a scarf, almost Gypsy-like, worn around his neck. The eyes of the great artist kindled as he spoke with the Gypsies, answering them back in their own Romany which he speaks well. I shall remember John as I saw him at that Hampshire art gallery.
Mrs. John sat outside in the garden, harassed by the crowds filling the gallery; for the exhibition was a Hampshire event, with Augustus John himself to open an exhibition of interesting and original pictures.
Dorelia John, as she sat in the spring-green garden, was an interesting picture herself, with her white hair held in a scarf of Indian-type printed silk, and her long-skirted dress also of printed material, reaching to her ankles. My children greeted her; they love her and Augustus as I do, they have both shown us so many kindnesses since I was first invited to visit them years ago, to talk 'herbs and Gypsies' with John, and had taken the then baby Rafik with me, packed into the big Arab shopping basket in which I used to carry him.
Another New Forest person who loves the Gypsies is Mrs. Walter Brown of the market garden at Frogham. I recall her praise of the forest Gypsies when she declared to me that they have a trade for every season of the year, and moreover trade mostly with Nature's materials which other people would not know how to use. Together, both of us pleased to prove her idea, we went through the Romany trades known to us, beginning with snowdrop gathering and then the wild daffodils following.
The wild daffodils of the forest, gathered by the Gypsies, make one of their trades which I shall remember best. For many times I had met with the daffodil gatherers from Millersford compound, the Gypsy women and their children, passing to and fro along the forest roads, their old perambulators laden with the papery, glistening, golden flowers, often shining with rain, the heaped flowers, the brown babies and the lurcher puppies all in the prams together. They walked fourteen miles in all, quite often and many times a week, to their special gathering places, where they picked the flowers with care so as not to spoil the harvest for the following years. Care for the daffodil flowers was worthwhile, for they sell well in the market-places of Ringwood and Salisbury, when neatly bunched and bound with green wool.
The peculiar local Gypsy name for the wild daffodils is dykes, and if Easter festival comes early and spring itself begins late, held back by frosts, then the Gypsies have a special method of steaming open the closed buds into forced flowering, much care and work being entailed in that steaming process over kettles and pans of hot water.
In the forest the Gypsy flower and plant trade is continuous through each year, for when there are no wildings for the gathering there are always forest ferns and the bay bushes which grow around old ruined cabins, and the sweet gale which grows in the bogs, both providing scented foliage which is saleable.
There is also moss to be collected for sale to florists. Then the holly and mistletoe trade is important for the Gypsies, both to florists and private houses, and they know well to cut the best berried branches early before the birds spoil them, and how to keep them a good colour by frequent sprinklings with water, and further flinging old sacking over all. Licenses to cut holly for Christmas are issued to the old Gypsy families.
They amass great hillocks of holly and lesser ones of mistletoe outside their dwelling places, ready to cart to the markets and shops or for hawking around the houses as soon as the Christmas week approaches. I remember tracing the Millersford compound for the first time, in their hidden valley off the moorland, by following a trail of fallen holly berries shortly before one Christmas.
The forest Gypsies are able to obtain tasks around them, in the fields or on the farms, through nearly all seasons of the year. Most people for whom they have worked 'and they will not accept employment from everybody, being very touchy about fair and civil treatment and no slave-driving 'praised the Gypsies for being quick and intelligent workers.
Lenn Witt sometimes had Gypsies helping in his fields, and we would see them at various tasks there, and often hear their singing rising to our cottage. And if there were women workers, then there was usually a touch of the most favored Gypsy colours to be seen, the red and the orange of a head-scarf or blouse to brighten the drab, ordinary country clothes now worn by most of the New Forest Gypsies. They do much work in fruit-gathering, especially on the many local strawberry farms, and some of the families still travel to work many counties away in the fruit and hop orchards.
They are expert in the wild-blackberry picking, and Lenn Witt told me that in 'the old days' when Gypsies 'teemed' in the New Forest, he used to be carrier often for the blackberry baskets, taking them the jam factories in the region, especially to Romsey. He would bring back as much as sixty or eighty pounds in money to be shared amongst several families for a week's blackberry gathering.
The year through there is the making of household articles, ash clothes-props, willow or hazel clothes-pegs, ash dairy churns and asks for the forest people's home-made wines. The hand-made Gypsy articles are preferred by all who seek long wear.
The round bee skeps once found in nearly every New Forest cottage garden, woven of bramble and straw and reed, are made mostly by the Gypsies. There are still some in use and we possessed one ourselves, and I used to use one on which to balance my typewriter when working out of doors as it was springy and made typing more of a pleasure: no bees, naturally, kept in that one! Old and new Gypsy bee skeps can sometimes be purchased in Salisbury market, though their use in beekeeping is rare now. A housewife of Alderholt told me that she had once been sold a straw bee skep as a shopping basket by an old Gypsy man, a plaited straw handle having been attached. There was still the hole at the bottom up which the bees are sent by smoke when the skep is in its proper reverse position. When she asked the Gypsy about the hole at the bottom of the offered basket she was told that it was to let the water out when it rained! She bought the basket! Standard baskets were also made of cane, straw and bramble, hard-wearing and often beautiful of shape and weave. And there were green baskets and mats of plaited reeds.
Then apart from the many hand trades of the Gypsies there is 'or was 'their skill in pony-breaking, shoeing and doctoring. Gypsies and horses! That is one of the greatest Romany sadnesses that they have had to part with most of their horses as their travelling life becomes more infrequent and they become house-dwellers. Of course the 'bad' Gypsies used their equine skill to sell equally bad ponies, but I always found them the fairest of pony traders, and purchased my own from Gypsies when I lived in the Pennine hills.
Mrs. Walter Brown, whose praise of the Gypsies sent me searching into their trades, well remembered the time when any ailing ponies or cattle on her parents' forest farm, were always successfully cured by the local Gypsy herbalists. And I could talk in turn with her, about the Gypsy skill in curing human illnesses, having collected many of their cures myself from many lands.
Such a race of people, hard-working and thrifty (apart from the men's beer 'sprees' in the pubs) for the lazy Gypsy sleeping his days away in the sun, is a myth 'it can be understood what resentment is felt by the Gypsies at the accusations of child-stealing yet and frequently being directed at them, to the extent of newspaper reports about 'Gypsy-type' women, and official police searches of the compounds and even private Gypsy dwelling-places. Whenever a child is missing from its pram the local Gypsies come under suspicion, and the searches begin. Nor is this activity confined to the police.
New Forest Gypsy friends have told me about private cars driving alongside their prams when they have been on the highways at such times, and the car occupants peering into the Gypsy prams and then moving off without explanation or apology. Not that the Gypsies 'being Gypsies 'endured such inspection in meek silence.
A Mrs. Elizabeth Cooper, Gypsy, of Bromley, Kent, sent a well-written letter to the News Chronicle, protesting that in three successive cases of child-stealing recently, the Gypsies had been made suspect. That it would be interesting to know when the last case of child-stealing against a Gypsy was proven and why no apology was ever made to the maligned Gypsies when each time the guilty party was found to be a non-Gypsy!
The forest Gypsies were cynical about their being suspected of wanting to take away anyone else's children. As if the Gypsy women had not enough of their own to provide for with present-time prices of everything over high! They declared. And further, what should they be doing with a child which was not of their own racial blood. It was absurd! And in any case they loved children too much ever to be able to harm one by taking it from its rightful parents.
Love children the Gypsies do! Their company in the many lands where I have been with my children has always been a great happiness to us.
In the forest, plant-sellers, rag collectors and scrap-iron dealers, all brought interest and pleasure to our cottage. Rafik and Luz made toys from the big Gypsy pegs. Peg playing soon became one of their favourite games.
Love of children is passionate amongst the Romany people, and I could therefore well understand Eiza Cooper's grief, the time that she could not trace one of her sons. The youth was in his early twenties and Eiza wanted to find him before Christmas came, a festival earnestly celebrated by the English Gypsies. Without being sentimental I could fairly describe the old Gypsy woman's state as being heart-broken. Her own description of her tormented condition was: 'Mi 'eart is shrivelled small as a pea.' And she said further that if Christmas went by without her finding her son, she would ''wither wi' the 'oily berries'.
She informed me that her trouble had turned her back into a roamer, that as soon as there was light in the day sky she was roaming the forest, unable to settle anywhere.
Eiza's then untraced son might have been her only child, considering the pain that his loss caused her, whereas he was one of a crowd of children and Eiza a grandmother more than twenty times. However, I was determined to trace the youth, and by means of numerous messages sent to and from the compound where Eiza lived and also numerous letters which I wrote to various places, Eiza's son was found and she was able to visit him before Christmas.
I was not the only one in the New Forest writing letters, for the many Gypsies who had had no 'schooling'. The old saddler-cobbler in Salisbury Street, Fordingbridge, in his interesting shop stacked with old saddles, straps and ropes, was an appointed Gypsy scribe. He wrote numerous letters for 'the travellers who no longer travelled', including love ones. He further had the task of reading the replies which came and answering them.
When I asked about the Romany love letters and what degree of romance they contained, I found that they consisted of the general 'I hopes you are well', then trivial gossip, and usually ending, 'I hopes to see you soon', and ''hoping this finds you as it finds me!' Finally ''Love from’
'Nothing more?' I inquired with some disappointment.
'Seldom, usually just the same.'
Perhaps the Gypsies are too shy to say to you their real thoughts for writing down,' I then told the scribe. He agreed that that might be so.
But the English Gypsy men can be romantic. One of my non-Gypsy women friends in the forest once had a Gypsy suitor. After their friendship had ended, as a sign of his continuing affection he used to leave bottles of ale for her from the local inn, and as he left the bottle on her doorstep, would whistle the sweet yearning notes of the curlew to tell her that he had passed by and the ale was there.
I once cared deeply for a Westmorland Gypsy from whom I purchased two ponies. Rides with him over the Pennine moorlands in the springtime and meetings at the Westmorland and Yorkshire horse fairs where the northern Gypsies gathered, were occasions to be remembered.
One of my chief pleasures of living in the New Forest was that we had the Gypsies all around us. Whereas before in other parts of England I had always had to wait for the fairs to meet them, or else it had been the brief meetings as they travelled by, harassed by the modern police laws which will not let them halt their vans for more than several days in one district, and under penalty of heavy fines if the ruling be defied.
In the New Forest the Gypsy living conditions, save for those who owned their own plots of land with forest cabins, were mostly miserable and often sordid, but their presence was quite permanent and they could visit me whenever they wanted or I could go to them.
Eiza Cooper declared that when we left Abbots Well she would seldom pass by our cottage again. 'Fer awhile it was a Romany kair (Gypsy dwelling),' she said, 'an' I shall regret you an' the children an' the dawg too much. I'll regret you terrible.'
Regret you. Regret you. That was the old Gypsy's lament during our last month, the many times that she visited us at Abbots Well. I could have called the lament back at her, as the cuckoos were then calling all around our cottage.
Gypsies of the ForestThis chapter was taken from the book, Wanderers in the New Forest by Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Permission to use this chapter, which is rich in the history of The New Forest Gypsies, was kindly granted by Raffi Nachshol, Juliette’s son and Faber and Faber Limited for which we are very grateful.