Merton celebrates Gypsy Roma Traveller History

Merton Council is launching an exhibition to celebrate the history and culture of Gypsies, Travellers and Roma in the borough.

The display is part of the Gypsy Roma Traveller Heritage month 2008 and will show the rich culture and history of this community. It will also feature quotes from, and the thoughts of, Merton schoolchildren with Gypsy Traveller ancestry.

The display will be at the Merton Heritage Centre, The Canons, Madeira Road,Mitcham CR4 4HD from June 4 – 24. The Centre is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from to 10am – 4pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 10am – 4.30pm and admission is FREE.

Searching for Gypsy and Traveller culture in museums is complex because the culture has traditionally been oral rather than written, and a lifestyle that involves moving about does not generate a huge emphasis on possessions.

Merton’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, Councillor Maurice Groves says:
‘ Gypsy and Romany heritage has played a significant part in the development of Merton. This wonderful exhibition explains this to a wider audience and will promote greater understanding within our community. The Canons is a listed building and a fantastic backdrop to display this rich heritage .’

Adele Gregory, a Merton resident of Romany heritage says: ‘Its really fantastic that Merton is having this display as our culture is dying out. I really hope that it dispels some of the negative images associated with us and gives greater understanding to our way of life.’

Notes to editors:

– Adele Gregory is a Merton resident of Romany heritage. She has lived in the borough all of her life and has 2 children. Adele will be at the launch of the exhibition and is available for interview.

– For more information on the Gypsy Roma Traveller Heritage month go to: http://www.gypsyromatravellerhistorymonth.co.uk/index.html

– The first reference to Gypsies in England is in 1514 when an ‘Egypcyan’ woman, a palm reader, gave evidence at an inquest in Lambeth.