Bonfires and fireworks have been used for a Millenia to celebrate all manner of things including victory and deliverance and the Bonfire Societies of Sussex have been at the forefront of such events for most of them. Following on from the failed plot of 1605 by Guy Fawkes, Robert Catesby and co, King James ordered that henceforth Bonfires were to be lit but the history of the Bonfire Societies go back a further 50 years to the reign of Queen Mary 1st (aka Bloody Mary) who mercilessly persecuted Protestants under the guise of being heretics killing several hundred during her reign. As a devout Catholic, she was wholly unimpressed by the changes to the church by her father King Henry VIII and she was resolute in deciding to punish all those who had decided to change to the less formal Church of England.
The Bonfire Boyes and Belles started in the early 17th century but by the late 18th century they were pretty much forgotten but by the 1820’s large contingents of Bonfire Boyes were rioting and causing havoc throughout the region.
Annually, Lewes Bonfire Society carry 17 burning crosses through the town before a wreath is laid at the War Memorial in the centre of town and burning tar barrels are then thrown into the River Ouse both in memory of those who lost their lives in the name of religion and in defiance of authorities who had in the past tried to stop the Bonfire Boyes from their mildly anti-religious/anti-political ministrations.
1/9/18 – UCKFIELD CARNIVAL SOCIETY
8/9/18 – CROWBOROUGH BONFIRE AND CARNIVAL SOCIETY
15/9/18 – MAYFIELD BONFIRE BOYES AND BELLES
22/9/18 – BURGESS HILL BONFIRE SOCIETY
29/9/18 – ROTHERFIELD AND MARK CROSS BONFIRE SOCIETY – EASTBOURNE BONFIRE SOCIETY
6/10/18 – HAILSHAM BONFIRE SOCIETY
13/10/18 – HASTINGS BONFIRE SOCIETY
20/10/18 – NORTHIAM BONFIRE SOCIETY – SEAFORD BONFIRE SOCIETY – NEVILLE JUVENILLE BONFIRE SOCIETY – NINFIELD BONFIRE SOCIETY – FLETCHING BONFIRE SOCIETY
27/10/18 – LITTLEHAMPTON BONFIRE SOCIETY – EWHURST AND STAPLECROSS BONFIRE SOCIETY – NEWICK BONFIRE SOCIETY
3/11/18 – BATTLE BONFIRE SOCIETY
5/11/18 – LINDFIELD BONFIRE SOCIETY – EDENBRIDGE BONFIRE SOCIETY
5/11/2018 – EAST HOATHLY AND HALLAND CARNIVAL SOCIETY – ROBIN HOOD BONFIRE SOCIETY
10/11/18 – SOUTH HEIGHTON BONFIRE SOCIETY – CHAILEY BONFIRE SOCIETY – ISFIELD BONFIRE SOCIETY
17/11/18 – ROBERTSBRIDGE BONFIRE SOCIETY
24/11/18 – HAWKHURST BONFIRE SOCIETY
If you are of a mind to keep a tradition of acknowledging the history of the Sussex region for both its community spirit and to help to raise funds for charities.
Charities like You Raise Me Up which provides much-needed funding to support families who have lost a child between 16 and 25 who know first-hand the pain of such loss, and Rainbow Bridge Equine Rescue which rescues and rehomes horses and ponies from across the region. There are usually two nominated charities each year for the Bonfire Societies so plenty of support being given.
There aren’t many celebrations of yesteryear left thanks to the ‘politically correct’ joy removers in our nanny state who have already cleansed us of games of conkers, competitive sport in school and climbing trees so if you would like a new and wholly community centred pastime which supports both the community and worthy causes, get in touch with your local bonfire society for more details.