A beauty spot has been overrun with travellers who are flocking from across Europe in a fleet of sports cars – to pay respects to the ‘Lady Diana’ of the gypsy world.
The large group of international itinerants have arrived at the posh area in soft top Audis and Merecdes pulling caravans.
Photos show vehicles – with French, Belgian, Swiss and Slovenian number plates – parked on Durdham Downs in Bristol where the average house costs £770,000.
The gypsies are here to pay respect to Violet Crumlish, a ‘Traveller Queen’ who is currently being treated for terminal bowel cancer at a Bristol hospital.
Thousands of travellers from across the continent have made the trip to say their goodbyes to the 59-year-old mum-of-eleven, with more set to arrive.
Many have set up camp on Durdham Downs in Sneyd Par pitching their caravans and soft-top Audis and Mercs on the picturesque parkland.
Other makeshift sites have sprung up elsewhere in the city, in Lockleaze, Horfield, Clifton, Bedminster and Stoke Gifford.
But the travellers have caused a stir with locals claiming they have spotted them defecating in bushes and littering.
Violet’s son Alex said the community has made the pilgrimage because his mum is so highly respected in travelling circles.
He said: “She is a queen and a princess, she is like Lady Diana to the travellers.
She is good to the poor and the sick – she is highly respected.
“She is like a mother to many in the travelling community which is why thousands are coming to see her.
“She is a lovely woman through and through and we are very proud that so many people are coming to see her.
“We will take her back to Northern Ireland for her funeral.”
Police say they are powerless to move them on unless “aggravating factors” are reported such as disorder, antisocial behaviour or crime.
One local, John Michaels, who lives “a few feet away” from the caravans on The Downs, said the visitors are “absolutely filthy”.
The visitors have been spotted drying out sleeping bags, reclining in deck chairs and making fires at the spot.
John said: “I have always been of ‘the live and let live’ mentality, however have genuinely been shocked by the behaviour of these travellers – defecating in the bushes, rubbish everywhere, small fires, noise, swearing.
“They are absolutely filthy and apparently lawless.”
Another resident, Neive Laing, said she was “disgusted” by what she saw.
She said: “There are quite a few vans and cars there.
“What upset me was there must be toilets in the trailers, so I don’t know why they are doing it in the bushes.
“I was waiting in traffic when I saw one of the children spray painting on the pavement and another one had paint on her hands.
“They were causing nothing but disruption. There is always a horrendous mess and we don’t want that around here. I actually saw a child defecating on the grass this morning.
“It’s absolutely disgusting, especially when the Downs is a place of natural beauty.”
Writing online, another person living in Sneyd Park added: “Live also very close to this, just down Savile Road.
“It’s not about racism or xenophobia like some would have you believe.
“If anybody moves into an area and then treats that environment with utter disregard, nah, contempt…then they aren’t welcome in that place, regardless of background or socioeconomic status.
“If they coexisted harmoniously with the local environment, instead of befouling it and being an intimidating presence, none of us would have any problems with them.”
Bristol City Council said their legal team will be applying for an order to boot the travellers of the land as soon as possible.
A spokesman said: “A welfare assessment has been completed and the paperwork has been sent to our legal team to apply for a possession order to recover the site from the travellers as swiftly as possible.
“We are also working closely with local police to monitor the situation.”