Our next Hands on History session on Saturday 20 February and is on the theme of ‘Journeys’.
Whilst searching in the stores, opening up box after box of fascinating objects, I discovered a charming toy Romany caravan, which inspired the theme of ‘Journeys’ for this Hands on History event. Continuing my searches amongst the stores, I was delighted to find further, intriguing objects corresponding to the theme, from an Arctic whip to a carriage wheel spoke brush. These and other exciting objects, including the Romany caravan, will be on display for visitors to handle and learn more about.
The toy caravan is likely to have been homemade and was used at Church Farm, Bedworth. It has some lovely details: little yellow curtains, a tiny lantern and an arched door that opens. The Romany name for a caravan is vardo. These caravans were highly cherished by their owners and used by Romany people for 150 years. Prior to this they travelled on foot with carts carrying their possessions and slept in tents called ‘benders’ made of hazel twigs. It took a specialist wagon maker between 6 to 12 months to build a vardo, usually from oak, ash, elm, walnut or pine. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, hundreds of vardo were built and travelled throughout Britain. The declining use of Romany caravans in the mid twentieth century occurred due to various factors especially the dominance of the motor car. Only small numbers of original vardo survive today, preserved in museums and private collections.
Look out for the Access Assistants and their trolley between 11am to 4pm in the Yellow Gallery. They will be very pleased to see you!