Since its first publication in 1986, Frances
Brown’s Fairfield Folk has been acknowledged
as a fairground classic. This latest edition
with its new information and many more
photographs brings the story of the Matthews
The history of the travellers is handed
down through the traditional method of a
‘Say’, every important, amusing or significant
event being turned into a story and faithfully
repeated from generation to generation.
Frances Brown, having been born into the
world of travelling showpeople, was able to
record the ‘Says’ of the Matthews family going
back to the early 1800s. Although some of
these stories seemed to beggar belief, she has
checked them against newspapers, court
records, and available documentation and
found them to be true, in the course of her
research unearthing a wealth of original
This book not only traces the way of life
of a travelling family, but charts the changes
and developments of the British fairground.
It should have wide appeal as it provides
many personal insights into the travelling
community, and records the development of
their early rides such as the famous steamdriven
roundabout filmed in Chitty-Chitty-
Bang-Bang and Half-a-Sixpence. The book
then brings the story up to date by
introducing some present-day members of
the Matthews family and depicting the
background to the design and construction
of their modern rides.
Frances Brown was born in Emsworth,
Hampshire, at a time when her parents
were beginning to ‘settle down’ from
their lives as travelling showpeople.
As a child she spent happy holidays with
her grandmother and aunts travelling to
fairs in Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset.
After completing a postgraduate
teacher-training degree at Sussex
University, she taught at the Rudolf
Steiner school in Sussex, but has now
begun a new career and is writing full
time. Besides being the author of books
and articles on traditional fairs, she has
written a much-acclaimed series of
novels based on the lives of some of
the characters whose histories are
detailed in Fairfield Folk.
Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 0 85704 156 2, hardback, 297x210mm, 160 pages. Published June 2012.