Our gorgeous vintage gypsy caravan has a real story to tell. Lovingly hand built over 50 years ago it has had a fascinating life. This is about as far as you can get from a modern-built ‘pod’! Here are just some of the golden nuggets we have gleaned about its secret history so that when you step in through its intricately painted doors you can capture a sense of its glorious past…
It was literally built to fit its first owner
To make sure that the bed was big enough, the tallest member of the family would have held out his or her arms and those measurements would then be used to determine the width of the bed, which in turn dictated the dimensions of the rest of the caravan. We can only assume that its first owners were not that tall, because the bed is a bit of a squeeze for anyone over 6ft tall (as The Forge’s co-founder Jamie, a 6’ 3” hairy Scotsman has found out!)
It has connections to actual Gypsy kings
If you check out the ornate paint work on the side of the caravan, you will see the intertwined letters WB, which we are led to believe stand for William (or Bill as he was affectionately known) Boswell. Bill was descended from one of the largest and most well-known of all the British Romany Gypsy families, the Boswells, who are sometimes thought of as the Gypsy 'royal family'. We are not 100% sure if our caravan was built specifically for him, but there is certainly a regal air in the very striking and ornate gold paintwork.
A family was born and raised in it
With the tallest members of the family up above in the double bunk bed, the smallest children would sleep in the cupboard underneath, cosy and warm beneath the grown-ups and next to the log burning stove. Older children would then either sleep underneath the caravan with curtains around the side for privacy and protection, or they would make a “bender tent” from bending hazel poles and covering them with a tarp. With a little box on the back of the caravan for the kettle and all the pots and pans, the family would have happily lived in and around their caravan all year round.
It was pulled by a real horse
With solid wheels, real brakes and bright yellow shafts, our caravan would have regularly have been pulled by a horse and it is very likely that it would have been to the famous Appleby Horse Fair, the annual gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in the town of Appleby in Cumbria. Check out the ornately entwined double horse’s head feature above the door, which hints at the caravan’s illustrious equestrian past.
It was a quirky accommodation feature at a stately home
Before arriving at The Forge, our caravan was owned by a stately home, in fact not far from Appleby. Offering a unique space for people to stay, it had fallen into a state of disrepair before being lovingly and sensitively restored to its former glory by a descendant of a local North Wales Gyspy family. His great grandfather was one of the last true Tinkers, and well-known for his exceptional talent for crafting tin (and hence the real root of the term ‘Tinker’).
The green canvas bow top was for camouflage
One of the things that strikes you when you approach our caravan is just how GREEN the canvas is on the bow top! In fact, these beautiful curved tops are always green in keeping with the tradition that they would more easily blend into the woodland and could be hidden away if necessary.
It is the ultimate hideaway
If you are looking for some place to hide away for a few days, then there is really no better place in the world. With a double insulated roof and nestled away in the corner of its own field, you feel like you are a million miles away from everywhere, all tucked up in your own little cosy cocoon. Relaxing with a good book on the bed with a steaming hot chocolate and the log burner crackling away is quite possibly one of life’s greatest glamping pleasures! Come and find out for yourself!