This film is part of Free

Queen of the Gypsies

Mrs Wells is interviewed as the new queen of her travelling cohort.

Current affairs 1964 5 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Clive Gunnell interviews the new Gypsy Queen 80-year-old Mrs Wells in her gypsy caravan. She is at the roadside near Chard in Somerset with her group. Mrs Wells has been queen for one year since her aunt died, and makes a living selling clothes pegs and paper flowers. The title of queen is bestowed upon the eldest female. Sarishan means good day! The reply is Kushto b?k! Good luck to you! The Romany dialect is thought to come from Sanskrit. A Gorger is a non-gypsy.

The word gypsy came mistakenly from Egyptian. Romany Gypsies originally emigrated from today’s India and Pakistan from the third century onwards moving to Wallachia, Moldavia, Transylvania and on to other European countries and America. Many travelling communities move around from April to November picking up seasonal jobs. Traditionally they are tinkers, hawkers (street vendors), pedlars, broom dashers (broom makers) chimney sweeps, basket weavers, labourers, farm hands, horse traders and trotters. A didicoy or diddykai is used for travellers with mixed Roma heritage or for non-Roma. Gypsies and Irish Travellers are distinct ethnically and make up an estimated 2-300,000 of the UK population.