The Orton waggon has had quite a colourful past, having once belonged to an elderly nurse - Miss Willerby - who used to look after Gypsy children. She kept the vardo in a barn at a local wheelwright's yard, but in the summer it would be drawn out and she would "roll the drom" to the hop fields, spending time with the Gypsy hop-pickers and looking after their children whilst they gathered the crops. Another owner was the British film director Peter Rogers of Beaconsfield, Bucks, who used it as a private retreat.
The Queen Mother inspected the waggon in the 1960s whilst visiting a nearby exhibition for the Royal School of Nursing at Marlborough House. Miss Willerby had taken the waggon for display at the event. The Queen Mother found the Orton fascinating, and folktale has it that as she left the vardo she was given a pair of brightly polished copper and brass water jacks as a gift! Wonder where she kept them?
- in her secret vardo perhaps.
This Orton Gypsy caravan is adorned with stunning 24 carat gilt acanthus leaf and animal carvings. It was last decorated in the early 1970s by renowned fairground artist Jimmy Williams, with touch-ups in later years by John Pockett.