Gypsies have been part of my life since my earliest memories-they have also been a facet of rural living. I remember them making a way stop in Cowbridge Hall (Cabbage Hole). They parked the brightly painted wagon by the roadside and set the horse to graze nearby. The man would soon be making clothes pegs from the young saplings growing in the hedgerow. On the morrow his wife would hawk these around the village to earn a few shillings. Most people would buy a few of the peges as it was considered bad luck to turn away a gypsy who had the power to set evil spirits upon you if you failed to buy their wares.
At that time of day gypsies were fairly local that is to say they kept around this area and knew it intimately for indeed many of them were born here. They almost always had names from the bible and the Old Testament at that-Moses, Eli, Aaron, Levi, Caleb were the names men answered to while the womenfolk had names like Hepzibiah and Naomi. I grew up with the Loveridge family and so did my father and my grandfather before him. They moved around the Fens seeking seasonal work and, being a large family, could muster a work force at the drop of a hat and rapidly harvest many acres of potatoes. They were well respected and came back year after year.
Whilst working at the Tower Hospital in Ely I had the privilege of caring for one of this clan, Moses Loveridge who suffered a stroke in his mid nineties. Moses was a lovable old man who never complained about his disability and was one of the only people I ever met who could dress himself almost entirely without help despite being paralysed down one side.
And another thing- Moses was never short of visitors; they came from far and wide and always brought in "goodies". I never knew him to run out of rum.
Now we have policies on travellers and gypsies. See Cambridgeshire's.