The Gypsy Caravan Theatre at Sutton House

This spring the Gypsy Caravan Theatre is taking up a six week residency in Sutton House's, Breaker's Yard. The caravan will be centre stage, inviting the local community to perform together. Celebrating the National Trust's 'Women and Power' year-long programme, we will be inviting all our 'theatre companies' to champion girls and women in the characters and stories that they create.

In 1895 H. Jones of Hereford, a wheelwright and wagon maker built this Gypsy caravan, known as a Burton.  Originally a showmans wagon it would have been home to a traveling family working at the fair. In that same year Octavia Hill started the National Trust to preserve fast-disappearing green spaces so they could ‘be kept for the enjoyment, refreshment, and rest of those who have no country house'. 

The Gypsy Caravan has travelled for over 130 years around Britain and a great many stories have been told on its front steps. Like a modern day 'Black Beauty', the wagon has been lovingly passed through the hands of many and been used a great number of things. The caravan has been a home to many families, a tearoom, a fishing hut, a children's Wendy house, been part of a museum and is now a community touring theatre.  

In spring 2018 The Gypsy Caravan Theatre is coming to live in Sutton House's backyard. Working in collaboration with community groups from around the borough of Hackney; diverse and intergenerational Theatre companies will be formed and shows will be created. 

Made possible with support of The Golden Bottle Trust 

What does the programme look like?

Local people are invited, both young and old, for a moment in time to transform themselves into a theatre company.

Some of the participants include local primary schools who will be working across year groups to create a theatre company from scratch.

Our very own kid’s forum, The Golden Spies, and over-55s group, are working on an intergenerational performance which will be showcased on the caravan to friends and family.

We are also collaborating with two local community groups/organisations:

Compassionate Neighbours ‘an award winning, free community-led project for anyone living with a chronic, long-term or terminal illness, or who is 85+ and experiencing loneliness or social isolation’.

Xenia an organisation that 'brings migrant, refugee, asylum-seeking & British women together for workshops that encourage English language practice & fun, meaningful two-way social integration'.

And, we are bringing together a new community group of ‘Grandmothers’. Working in collaboration with women from Hackney, artists Clemmie James and Ruth De Courcy Shepherd will create a show exploring the roles of grandmothers, mothers and daughters and the stories they tell each other.

Public Programme:

Grandparent and Child Workshops -Saturday 12th May & Saturday 26th May 
Form a theatre company for the day with your grandparents or that special older person. An intergenerational workshop creating a show from scratch and then putting on a glorious performance for the rest of family.

2:00pm-4:00pm Workshop at Sutton House - Participants 
4:30/5:00pm - Show Time on The Gypsy Caravan Theatre - All the family are invited. ( Free and open to the public) 

Sign up by emailing your name and size of your group to 

‘Grandmothers’ a performance - Thursday 17th May 8:00pm-9:00pm

Enjoy an evening of celebration and storytelling. You are invited to watch a performance developed from our three-week residency with local women and artists. 

Evening of Poerty and Music Hosted by Pages of Hackney - Tuesday 22nd May 7:00pm-9:00pm

The fabulous bookshop Pages of Hackney are hosting a night of women telling stories, we are delighted to welcome Meryl Pugh to read from her debut poetry collection, Natural Phenomena, followed by a performance from the Norfolk Broads, a low pitched four-piece female folk ensemble all on the Gypsy Caravan Theatre.