This floral tribute was made for the grave of Danal “Dannie” Buckley, a gypsy, who died aged 71 in June 1983. He and his wife Doris travelled round the countryside with a horse and wagon, working on farms, and were known for their skill in breaking in horses and caring for sick ponies. They settled in Little Totham in the 1960s and began to exhibit Dannie’s collection of antiques outside his caravan there, some of which are shown in this picture.
Dannie was buried in St Mary’s churchyard, Kelvedon on July 6, 1983. Six months later the Christmas wreath was taken to the graveside with 50 members of the Buckley family in procession behind. The tribute was made by David Weekes, a Braintree antiques dealer who used to be a florist, and took about 2,000 artificial flowers and 200 hours work to complete!
Upon its completion Mr Weekes claimed the wreath should last up to six months. Nearly 30 years later the tribute still survives, and after extensive conservation work has now been put on display for the first time since arriving at the museum in 1984. Although its faded flowers will never be restored to their former glory, the tribute remains a remarkable monument to Dannie Buckley.
Photograph copyright Essex County Standard, Colchester.