• Roma Routes

United Kingdom

UK Partner

Surrey Heritage, Surrey County Council

Kefford and Smith families, courtsey of Irene Colbert

Kefford and Smith families, courtsey of Irene Colbert

Surrey Heritage protects the county’s written and archaeological heritage. Surrey Heritage has a strong outreach service and emphasis on community development to ensure that Surrey’s heritage is explored and celebrated by the widest possible audience. Since 2004 we have been working with the Gypsy/Traveller community to explore and celebrate their culture.

Some of the things we looked at were:

  • Whether Gypsy/Travellers (Roma) wanted to have their cultural heritage represented in museums, libraries and archives, to which the answer was a vigorous ‘yes’.
  • Whether they felt it was well represented at present, which produced suggestions for improvement.
  • How Gypsy/Travellers (Roma) cultural heritage should be presented to a broader public.

Surrey Heritage were pleased to be the lead partner for Roma Routes EU funded project. A two year project which supported 2 international conferences together with our own local events showcasing Gypsy and Roma culture throughout Surrey.


Traditional Gypsy wagon at Romany Day

Traditional Gypsy wagon at Romany Day

Annual Romany Day

From 2009 – 2011 we held events as part of Gypsy, Roma, Traveller History Month at Bourne Hall Museum which showcased traditional Gypsy vardos (wagons), cookery demonstrations, arts and craft activities, exhibitions, music and much more. Most importantly there was conversation between Gypsies and non Roma people.

In 2012 – 2015 we held the annual Romany Day at the Rural Life Centre, Tilford.

Romany and Gypsy Display at the Epsom Derby

Epsom Derby event

Epsom Derby event

In 2011 and 2012 Surrey Heritage together with the Gypsy/Roma community held a Display promoting the culture and longstanding history of Gypsies and Travellers at the Derby. The display included traditional Gypsy wagons, musical performances, modern trailers, history displays and children’s activities. Surrey County Council Chairman Lavinia Sealy opened the stage expressing the importance of such events and their role in ‘breaking down barriers between communities’.

The stage was host to a variety of Romany artists. Kerieva gives a modern electronic interpretation  to songs in the Romani language. The Romany Diamonds, a family of performers spanning three generations, brought a traditional flavour to the day with their fast exciting Gypsy music. And Cristofe Sors, born in France, played a set of Gypsy guitar. The very popular ‘Travellers Got Talent’ South East heats provided entertainment to the crowds for the rest of the afternoon. In 2012 we were joined by artists Florence Joel, Billy and Dean Country Music and dance performances by youth group Rhythmix.

Surrey Heritage and Bourne Hall Museum displayed old photographs of Gypsies at the Derby and many people recognised family members amongst the photos. There was also information available on how to trace Gypsy, Romany and Traveller ancestry. The display of traditional Gypsy wagons and modern trailer illustrated the changing styles of Gypsy / traveller homes throughout history. Many of those who came to the Derby for the races were found chatting to local Gypsies and enjoying the entertainment.

Research into Roma/Gypsy/Traveller collection in the UK

As part of this EU funded project we have aimed to gain a picture of the UK archives and museum collections which have items relating to the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community. The information in this document below was sent to us by each museum and archive and may not be complete as we only had a limited amount of time to compile it.

Research into Roma collections

Traveller’s Got Talent

In 2010 the Travellers Got Talent competition went national. During the summer Gypsies, Roma and Travellers across England will be competing in a nationwide talent contest. Travellers Got Talent, or Bari Radt (Big Night) in Romani.

The South East regionals were held at the annual Gypsy Day on June 19th. 15 competitors sang and played in front of a 200 strong crowd of local Gypsies and Travellers to produce an almost identical result to last year’s Travellers Got Talent. Singer Scarlett Lee was the regional winner. Joint runners up were singers Johnny Gregory and Jimmy Connors. Singer Sherry-Marie Smith came third, but the scores were so close that the judges decided to send all 4 young people to the national final.

Singer at Traveller's Got Talent

Singer at Traveller’s Got Talent

To see more photos click here to go to the United Kingdom Gallery

Click here to go back to the Project Page

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