4 out of 5 stars

The publisher provided a copy of this, free of charge, in return for an honest review.

Even though the author is not a gypsy, there is an interesting conversation that he recounts in the introduction that he has with another gypsy when he says about writing this book. The man argues that a gypsy history should be written by a gypsy, and Harte agrees. But he asks who is going to write it, and the man agrees that it is unlikely that anyone at the moment has those skills needed, so it might as well be me, says, Harte.

This book, Travellers Through Time is a sympathetic history of these travelling people from Tudor times up until about a decade ago. They have never really fitted in this country in all that time, being seen as vagrants and delinquents. But behind that façade is a people who have their own morals and way of life. Just because it doesn’t fit with ours, doesn’t make it wrong.

If you know where to look you can find their stopping places all over the country, place names that have a link way back to where they stopped on their travels. Back in Tudor times, they walked, none of the beautiful caravans, they came much later

Their story in our county ebbs and flows between tolerance and persecution, but knowing what these people are actually like takes time and energy. Jeremey Harte has had that time to spend with them, to understand what makes them tick and I think that this book acts as a bridge between our way of life and theirs. He is seen as having a unique perspective given his integration with the community, understanding of their way of life and also detached enough to give it a proper perspective.

I thought this was a fascinating history. Each chapter takes us through a time range and there is a good selection of photos and art of well-known gypsies through the ages. He covers their language, way of life and significant milestones in their history in the country. I hadn’t realised that Gypsies were very active in the place where I grew up, Knaphill and in particular Chobham which is the next village along. If you want to learn about these people then this is a very good place to start and I also would suggest reading The Stopping Places by Damien Le Bas too.

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