Villagers have criticised a county council after they closed a road for two weeks for a gypsy wake.

A brazier fire was lit in a lane as part of a traveller tradition to burn the possessions of the dead for a fortnight before burial.

A marquee was also erected nearby as members of the gypsy community took part in the tribute to mother-of-three Lena Lay, 55.

Drivers are now being forced to find an alternative route around the 100 metre road block until Mrs Lay’s funeral on Thursday.

West Sussex County Council, who did not grant permission for the ceremony, are allowing the wake continue.

But residents in Fishbourne say they are upset that council bosses have not attempted to move the brazier fire.

Bob Kerby, 63, said: “There’s one law for us and one for them. We pay our taxes and are entitled to have access to the road.

“It’s also an inconvenience for emergency services.”

Other villagers were annoyed the council did not give them more information about the closure other than a leaflet that was put through doors on Saturday.

One 60-year-old resident, who did not want to me named, said: “It would have been nice to have had a little bit more information because we didn't know what was going on.

“We were concerned about it because we were told that 150 to 200 people would be coming down here over the weekend but clearly that has not happened.

“The travellers used a generator to light the marquee and that caused some problems because of the noise.

“If the council had given us more information then it would have made things a little less flustered.

“Not knowing all their customs makes people feel uneasy.”

Mrs Lay, who lived in the Fishbourne area for six years died last week after losing her battle with pneumonia.

Her body will be brought back to the family home in Caspian Close on Wednesday before the funeral.

A horse drawn carriage will bear the coffin to the church where hundreds of people are expected to pay their last respects.

Pru Bridger, Mrs Lay’s sister, said the family, were just sending her off according to tradition.

The 54-year-old said: “It is a tradition that when the body passes away to light a fire.

“The men sit around the fire and women make tea but we don’t drink alcohol whatsoever because that’s not respectful to the body.

“We are giving her the last send off and that's the way we pay our respects.”

Ms Bridger added: “You could not wish for a better sister and a better mother.

“Anytime you asked she would be there for you. She worked amongst the homeless and she knew what life was all about.

“She will be sadly missed by friends and neighbours.”

A council spokeswoman said: “Concern was expressed that a metal drum containing a fire had been placed on the highway verge outside a house.

"Because of a truck was parked while members of a travellers' family watched over the drum, we have put a temporary road closure in place for road safety reasons.”

She added that the closure had cost less than £100.