The Story of Heyford (Extra): A Gypsy Caravan Tale – John Butcher & David Banner

Many years ago (approx 1951) a lady arrived in the village with a horse drawn gypsy caravan which she parked in John Smiths field between the river and Crow Lane. She stayed there for many months during which time her horse died and she was enquiring about a replacement.

My grandfather had a very large shire horse for sale and i suggested to the lady that we should bike over to Caldecote near Towcester for her to inspect the horse. A price was agreed and I offered to ride the horse bareback via Tiffield, Dalscote, Birds Hill and Bugbrooke to Heyford, a very painful journey.

Next day I helped to harness the horse to the caravan which had sunk into the wet ground, the horse heaved and broke all the chains attaching it to the caravan, John Smiths tractor was required to move it.

After some further months the lady, horse and caravan left Heyford and never returned. She was writing a book about her journey but I do not know whether it was ever published. Have any of your older readers any knowledge as to who the lady was and whether a book was ever published?

W John Butcher

Published November Edition 2020

John Butchers article in the November Prattler

The lady mentioned was known to us as Roma Far. In 1951, I was a 7-year-old who walked every day from Upper Heyford to Bliss School. We would stop and feed the goat and stroke the dogs. She camped in the field known as the Pykle next to Crow Lane, before the entrance to the lane was filled in by the council, it was a nice open space often used by gypsies.

Many years later having become an avid book collector, I discovered that Roma Far was really Rowena Farre, the best selling authoress of ‘Seal Morning’, a wild life book published in 1957. This was followed by ‘A time from the World’ published in 1962. This is the story of her roaming life, living with gypsies and tinkers, her stay in Upper Heyford was part of this journey. 

David Banner

Published December Edition 2020

Rowena Farre

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