The Reading Waggon

web Reading waggon (c) Museums WorcestershireThis Gypsy Vardo or caravan was found in a garden in Drakes Broughton, near Pershore. It was bought by Worcestershire County Museum in the early 1960s and was later restored.

The type of design acquired its name from the principal makers of this style, Duntons, who traded in Reading from 1884 to 1921. They are also known as Kite waggons because of the profile characterised by tall back wheels, outward sloping sides, high-arched roof and lavish decoration.

The interior and exterior of this waggon are very luxurious. Much of the detailing on the exterior is finished in gold leaf. The many original features include shafts, steps, a cratch (the place where cooking pots were stored) and amber glass grab handles.

Very few original waggons remain. Time and weather have taken their toll on structures made of canvas. The old Romany burial ritual of destroying a person’s possessions and setting fire to the waggon on their death has also reduced the number still in existence. The Worcestershire County Museum in Hartlebury is one of the few places in the country where so many varied types of Gypsy waggon can be viewed together making this collection an important part of English history.

 

Thanks to Anita Blythe and Steve Smith for their research into this collection.

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