The Chilterns Conservation Board has just published Our Common Heritage. It’s a free online publication containing six essays about the social history of an area stretching from Berkshire and Oxfordshire in the south to Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, along the line of the Chiltern Hills.
Among these is an essay by RTFHS member Anne Ford called ‘On Common Ground’. This focuses on the Romany families who lived in and travelled through the region in the 19th century and made a major contribution to its rural economy and social life by working on the farms and brick kilns, providing music and fairground rides at fairs and feasts and supplying household essentials such as pegs, baskets and brooms. The families named in the study include Hearn, Loveridge, Fenner, Draper, Beldam, Leatherland, Fisher, Harris, Shaw, Buckland, Smith, Boswell and many others.
The cover photograph of the publication shows a fine portrait of the famous Gypsy Elizabeth Leatherland (nee Hearn) who claimed to be 111 years old at her death in Tring, Hertfordshire, in 1874.