10 things you never knew about Gypsies in Ewell

This year is the 500th anniversary of the first record of Gypsies in England

This year is the 500th anniversary of the first record of Gypsies in England

First published in News
Last updated
This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

This year is the 500th anniversary of the first record of Gypsies in England.

Following on from our look at the history of Gypsies and travellers in Epsom and Ewell to mark the milestone, Bourne Hall curator Jeremy Harte shares some interesting facts about their place in Ewell's history.

10 things you never knew about Gypsies in Ewell:

1. Romany gypsies have been stopping in Ewell since 1677. 

They were called Babylonians because nobody could imagine where they came from.

2. For many years travellers could be arrested just for being on the road. 

In 1785, Tabitha Clarke and Hannah Scamp were locked up with their nine children, in a tiny prison in Church Street, because they had slept in the open air.

3. Inventive names are a Gypsy tradition.  

Major Eyres (1786), Faurnity Cooper (1823), Jenty Hope (1870) and Unity Pidgley (1917) all passed through Ewell.

4. There were many places in Ewell where Gypsies were welcome. 

They regularly stayed at Banstead Road, once called Gipsy Lane; at the Rifle Butts, where Glyn School is now; on the verges by Kingston Road; and down Hook Road.

This Is Local London:

Gypsies on Derby Day in 1931 

5. One of the great Gypsy romances began in Ewell.

Liddie Gowan, a preacher’s daughter, walked through the annual fair in 1829 and saw Chewbacca Matthews, a boxer.  ‘That’s the man for me’, she said, and took to the road with him.

6. Gypsies were valued as farm workers because they could quickly bring in crops. 

They harvested potatoes at Wallace Fields and turnips at Ewell Court. 

7. A supply of water is vital for travellers. 

In Derby week, they would bring carts to collect it from the springs at Ewell and take it up on the Downs.  Sometimes it was mixed with yellow powder and sold as lemonade to thirsty racegoers.

8. After schools were opened up to Gypsies in 1906, many families made efforts to get their children educated.

They were enrolled at West Street School and Ewell Grove.

This Is Local London:

An item in the Gypsy and traveller display at Bourne Hall 

9. Many Gypsies fought in both World Wars. 

Aaron Hoadley, who stopped off at Snaky Ally in 1923, was at the Derby wearing his medals when someone bet him that he could not borrow £1 off George V - but he managed to do it because he was an ex-serviceman.

10. Gypsies are famous musicians. 

The Lee family, who helped farmers off Reigate Road, played waltzes and polkas in local pubs.  Jasper Smith, of Cox Lane, had a repertoire of folksongs about gypsy life.

Comments (7)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

7:28pm Wed 5 Mar 14

Liberals are deluded says...

ONE WORD : "PROPAGANDA"

Only for the brainwashed
ONE WORD : "PROPAGANDA" Only for the brainwashed Liberals are deluded
  • Score: 16

9:24pm Wed 5 Mar 14

sjsunny says...

Jeremy Hart must be EEBC's 'secret weapon' to change public opinion! Hardly subtle, please credit residents of this borough with some intelligence and perhaps listen to our views, concerns and suggestions!
Jeremy Hart must be EEBC's 'secret weapon' to change public opinion! Hardly subtle, please credit residents of this borough with some intelligence and perhaps listen to our views, concerns and suggestions! sjsunny
  • Score: 15

11:14am Thu 6 Mar 14

unebalam says...

Everyone different to me is evil and must be stopped! It is quite clear that if you live in a caravan your soul will have been corrupted by the devil and there will not be a single ounce of goodness in that person. I can tell all of this without even meeting the person I just need a few key facts about thier lifestyle (such as where they live) and I can tell you if they are a worthy human being or not.... ah if only everyone were like me and the other people who have posted here who also have superhuman psychic abilities and are perfectly pure and decent in everyway... we are great ! big cheer for us! hoorar!
Everyone different to me is evil and must be stopped! It is quite clear that if you live in a caravan your soul will have been corrupted by the devil and there will not be a single ounce of goodness in that person. I can tell all of this without even meeting the person I just need a few key facts about thier lifestyle (such as where they live) and I can tell you if they are a worthy human being or not.... ah if only everyone were like me and the other people who have posted here who also have superhuman psychic abilities and are perfectly pure and decent in everyway... we are great ! big cheer for us! hoorar! unebalam
  • Score: -9

3:36pm Thu 6 Mar 14

EwellMan says...

Nice to see the Gaurdian has removed my comment asking why they keep promoting Gypsies? So i will re-type

Stop trying to brainwash readers that Gypsies are a good thing for the area and date back to the early 1900's because these have no similarities to the ones in the camps in and around Epsom and Ewell.

We do not want any more CAMP's in Epsom and Ewell and thats fact......ask any resident and 99% will tell you the same. Once Kiln lane is full then happy to have an adult debate on a new camp at the same time stop taking money from my council tax to pay for the maintenance as supposedly they pay their way in tax?

Why are these people treated so differently? They can take their children out of school during term time with no fines and are given course work. They drive round in new cars with no questions from the HMRC where they got the cash to pay for them and the police are scared? Tell my i'm wrong?
Nice to see the Gaurdian has removed my comment asking why they keep promoting Gypsies? So i will re-type Stop trying to brainwash readers that Gypsies are a good thing for the area and date back to the early 1900's because these have no similarities to the ones in the camps in and around Epsom and Ewell. We do not want any more CAMP's in Epsom and Ewell and thats fact......ask any resident and 99% will tell you the same. Once Kiln lane is full then happy to have an adult debate on a new camp at the same time stop taking money from my council tax to pay for the maintenance as supposedly they pay their way in tax? Why are these people treated so differently? They can take their children out of school during term time with no fines and are given course work. They drive round in new cars with no questions from the HMRC where they got the cash to pay for them and the police are scared? Tell my i'm wrong? EwellMan
  • Score: 12

10:26am Fri 7 Mar 14

MikeD4 says...

Its interesting that some of the commenters here see a mini historical feature on Gypsies and Travellers in a local newspaper as "propaganda".

Any social historian who has studied the local history of Epsom and Ewell will tell you that the two recent historical features on Epsom and Ewells Gypsies and Travellers are accurate - including the reference to past controversy. The Guardian is presenting a fair analysis of the historical record for the benefit of its readers to make sense of both the past and - if they like -the present. The journalist is not telling the readers what to think. I don't see it as "propaganda"; I call it responsible journalism and a breath of fresh air when compared to the usual national coverage of Gypsies and Travellers.

What I want to ask the commenters who seem to want to silence the Epsom Guardian is: Are Gypsies and Travellers not allowed to have their historical local links explored in a popular and accessible way by a local newspaper? Are the commenters suggesting censorship of content that personally annoys them or are they just exercising their own freedom of speech (within the boundaries of the criminal and civil law)? Is all content that they don't like "propaganda"?

I suggest that "propaganda" begins when the historical record - or any accurate record - is supressed.

Btw, authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites are not "camps".

3/4 of the UK's Gypsies and Travellers who live in caravans live on legitimate authorised sites. That is not "propaganda"; that is a fact.

Well done to the Epsom Guardian.
Its interesting that some of the commenters here see a mini historical feature on Gypsies and Travellers in a local newspaper as "propaganda". Any social historian who has studied the local history of Epsom and Ewell will tell you that the two recent historical features on Epsom and Ewells Gypsies and Travellers are accurate - including the reference to past controversy. The Guardian is presenting a fair analysis of the historical record for the benefit of its readers to make sense of both the past and - if they like -the present. The journalist is not telling the readers what to think. I don't see it as "propaganda"; I call it responsible journalism and a breath of fresh air when compared to the usual national coverage of Gypsies and Travellers. What I want to ask the commenters who seem to want to silence the Epsom Guardian is: Are Gypsies and Travellers not allowed to have their historical local links explored in a popular and accessible way by a local newspaper? Are the commenters suggesting censorship of content that personally annoys them or are they just exercising their own freedom of speech (within the boundaries of the criminal and civil law)? Is all content that they don't like "propaganda"? I suggest that "propaganda" begins when the historical record - or any accurate record - is supressed. Btw, authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites are not "camps". 3/4 of the UK's Gypsies and Travellers who live in caravans live on legitimate authorised sites. That is not "propaganda"; that is a fact. Well done to the Epsom Guardian. MikeD4
  • Score: -4

8:04pm Mon 10 Mar 14

EwellMan says...

MikeD4 wrote:
Its interesting that some of the commenters here see a mini historical feature on Gypsies and Travellers in a local newspaper as "propaganda".

Any social historian who has studied the local history of Epsom and Ewell will tell you that the two recent historical features on Epsom and Ewells Gypsies and Travellers are accurate - including the reference to past controversy. The Guardian is presenting a fair analysis of the historical record for the benefit of its readers to make sense of both the past and - if they like -the present. The journalist is not telling the readers what to think. I don't see it as "propaganda"; I call it responsible journalism and a breath of fresh air when compared to the usual national coverage of Gypsies and Travellers.

What I want to ask the commenters who seem to want to silence the Epsom Guardian is: Are Gypsies and Travellers not allowed to have their historical local links explored in a popular and accessible way by a local newspaper? Are the commenters suggesting censorship of content that personally annoys them or are they just exercising their own freedom of speech (within the boundaries of the criminal and civil law)? Is all content that they don't like "propaganda"?

I suggest that "propaganda" begins when the historical record - or any accurate record - is supressed.

Btw, authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites are not "camps".

3/4 of the UK's Gypsies and Travellers who live in caravans live on legitimate authorised sites. That is not "propaganda"; that is a fact.

Well done to the Epsom Guardian.
No, We just want the truth and trying writing these lovely articles about Gypsies in Epsom and Ewell and how some of musicians and how they collected water to make lemonade maybe.....just so happened at the same time or a week later where all the residents where in uproar about building yet another camp/site whatever you want to call it in the borough something we dont want, we dont need and certinaly us taxpayers should not have to pay for them. I'm happy for an honest balanced article, so tell me 10 facts that are not so nice - Heres 5 to start - How much council tax do they pay? How many have have criminal records? How many take their children out of school because they can and dont get fined? How many with their own businesses are registered with companied house? How do they afford 50k weddings? 50k mercedes?

I have witnessed and had family and friends subjected to the travellers of the borough - They thieve, they bully, they scare older people into not going out or answering the door and they pay little if any tax and expect everything for nothing. This is not made up, this is fact!!!

BTW - out of the 3/4 of Gypsy sites that they live on legitimately, how many are owned by the council (so us the taxpayer) and how many are paid for to be maintained, again by us the taxpayer.
[quote][p][bold]MikeD4[/bold] wrote: Its interesting that some of the commenters here see a mini historical feature on Gypsies and Travellers in a local newspaper as "propaganda". Any social historian who has studied the local history of Epsom and Ewell will tell you that the two recent historical features on Epsom and Ewells Gypsies and Travellers are accurate - including the reference to past controversy. The Guardian is presenting a fair analysis of the historical record for the benefit of its readers to make sense of both the past and - if they like -the present. The journalist is not telling the readers what to think. I don't see it as "propaganda"; I call it responsible journalism and a breath of fresh air when compared to the usual national coverage of Gypsies and Travellers. What I want to ask the commenters who seem to want to silence the Epsom Guardian is: Are Gypsies and Travellers not allowed to have their historical local links explored in a popular and accessible way by a local newspaper? Are the commenters suggesting censorship of content that personally annoys them or are they just exercising their own freedom of speech (within the boundaries of the criminal and civil law)? Is all content that they don't like "propaganda"? I suggest that "propaganda" begins when the historical record - or any accurate record - is supressed. Btw, authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites are not "camps". 3/4 of the UK's Gypsies and Travellers who live in caravans live on legitimate authorised sites. That is not "propaganda"; that is a fact. Well done to the Epsom Guardian.[/p][/quote]No, We just want the truth and trying writing these lovely articles about Gypsies in Epsom and Ewell and how some of musicians and how they collected water to make lemonade maybe.....just so happened at the same time or a week later where all the residents where in uproar about building yet another camp/site whatever you want to call it in the borough something we dont want, we dont need and certinaly us taxpayers should not have to pay for them. I'm happy for an honest balanced article, so tell me 10 facts that are not so nice - Heres 5 to start - How much council tax do they pay? How many have have criminal records? How many take their children out of school because they can and dont get fined? How many with their own businesses are registered with companied house? How do they afford 50k weddings? 50k mercedes? I have witnessed and had family and friends subjected to the travellers of the borough - They thieve, they bully, they scare older people into not going out or answering the door and they pay little if any tax and expect everything for nothing. This is not made up, this is fact!!! BTW - out of the 3/4 of Gypsy sites that they live on legitimately, how many are owned by the council (so us the taxpayer) and how many are paid for to be maintained, again by us the taxpayer. EwellMan
  • Score: 4

8:02pm Tue 11 Mar 14

Liberals are deluded says...

We just don't want them here! What part of that do the knuckleheads not understand?
We just don't want them here! What part of that do the knuckleheads not understand? Liberals are deluded
  • Score: 3

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree