Category Archives: 5th November

OTTERY ST MARY TAR BARRELS EVENT 2019

WHAT: OTTERY ST MARY TAR BARRELS EVENT 2019
WHY: ANNUAL TAR BARRELS EVENT
WHERE: OTTERY ST. MARY, DEVON
WHEN: 5TH NOVEMBER 2019
COST: FREE

Goodness gracious great barrels of fire!

As November the 5th approaches, the Ottery locals are preparing the barrels for the last soaking of tar ready for this year’s blazing celebration.

The exact origins of the celebration are unknown, and there are several rationales and myths about how the tradition began.  Alternative reasons are; the fumigation of the cottage and that the flaming barrels were lit as a warning that the Spanish armada was approaching. The only thing of any certainty is that the event dated back to 17th century and the gunpowder plot making it around 300 years old.

Earlier in the history of the event, the barrels were set alight and rolled down the streets.  Somewhere along the line, this was thought as a little too tame, and it was changed to the barrels been carried instead through the town something that the Ottery residents are very proud of and today attracts thousands of visitors to witness the spectacle each year.

Each of the barrels is sponsored by the Ottery St Mary’s town centre pubs, and the rolling takes place outside, or in some cases where a former pub used to be. Not just any Tom, Dick or Harry is permitted to carry the barrel; this is something that you have to be an Ottery St Mary resident to do.

Flaming Tar Barrels at Ottery St Mary

Many of the families have taken part in the event for many generations and there is a strict hierarchy on whomsoever gets to carry a barrel. The adult’s ‘barrel’ events are held at 7pm and there is an event for the children to have a go around 4pm. Make sure that you don’t miss out on the traditional midnight ‘barrel’, the biggest and most spectacular display that is held in Ottery’s main square.

Another fiery and integral part of the annual carnival is the epic bonfire situated on St Saviours Meadow. Three weeks before the carnival, the gathering of the materials for the bonfire takes place, and then a week before the festival is the building of the bonfire.  They are duly proud of their Bonfire as it usually stands at around 35ft high and the girth of it around 50ft.

The guy topping the bonfire was originally made by the young family every year from 1958 to 2009.  Nowadays, there is a guy competition held for the children in the community with the winner topping the bonfire. Most people associate the bonfire with the fairground as they stand adjacent to one another. This is an opportunity for the photographers amongst you to get some perfect shots as the blazing glow of the fire is complemented by the bright coloured lights of the funfair.

To make funds for the event year on year there are sales of memorabilia on offer along with programmes that give you a run-down of where the barrels will be at what times, these sales keep the tradition going. The event is free for all to enjoy but as you can understand due to the popularity of locals and from visitors the population of the town doubles. If you don’t like crowds, then this is not an event for you. But if you’re a bit of fire lover then get along and witness first hand one of the oldest events taking place in the UK today.

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YE OLDE SUSSEX BONFIRE SOCIETIES

The UK has it’s fair share of associations and groups but few can trace their origins back quite as far as the Sussex Bonfire Societies (including parts of Kent).  There are currently 35 operational Bonfire Societies; some are for the whole family whereas some are exclusively an ‘adult’ affair which has been running since the early 19th century.

In the early days, following the actions of Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby, King James created an Act detailed as ‘An Acte for a publique Thanksgiving to God Almighty ever year of the fifth day of November’  in remembrance of the close escape from annihilation of him, his Lords and close relations who were gathered for the opening of Parliament.

In the early days, celebrations were very low key and subdued but became increasingly riotous and were eventually banned by Oliver Cromwell on the creation of the Commonwealth but re-established years later during the reign of Charles II but again, the celebrations were more hit and miss.

Bonfire Societies started initially in response to the burning of 17 protestant martyrs during the reign of Catholic Queen Mary Tudor.  They were originally just a bunch of men who went through the village at leaner times of the year (late autumn and winter) begging for food and where available, alcohol.  However, begging was a criminal offence and as such, to avoid detection, they would dress up as pirates or black up their faces leaving them free to do as they wished.  Hence the reason that today’s Bonfire Societies adopt a specific colour and type of costume ranging from monks and Saxons to jailbirds and Zulu warriors – the list is long and varied.

The members are fiercely proud and work tirelessly from one year to the next in preparation.  The events usually feature an effigy- once upon a time this would have been a very simple ‘guy’ but over the years, this has transformed into something a whole lot more thought-provoking.  Some of the effigies burnt have been controversial including several complaints about burning ‘The Pope’ and the numerous ‘No Popery’ signs carried by the revellers on their respective processions.

Last year some of the societies gained national recognition as they were featured on the BBC News.  Edenbridge B/S (Bonfire Society) burned an 11 foot effigy of the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson with his infamous mop of unruly hair, cycling helmet, Hawaiian shorts and a couple of red buses for shoes holding aloft an EU cake – the message being that you can’t have your cake and eat it – it seems that this message was not taken to heart as he steams forward with the UK’s plans to leave Europe.

Bonfire Societies across Sussex and Kent have had the proverbial ‘tilt’ at numerous high-profile individuals over the years including premiership footballer Wayne Rooney, outspoken former apprentice participant (and completely hateful woman) Katie Hopkins and even US President Donald Trump.

This year, there will be events from each of the remaining societies starting on 7th September to 16th November.  Here is a list of the dates of each:

  • 7/9/2019 UCKFIELD
  • 14/9/2019 CROWBOROUGH
  • 21/9/2019 MAYFIELD
  • 28/9/2019 BURGESS HILL
  • 5/10/2019 EASTBOURNE
  • 12/10/2019 NINFIELD
  • 19/10/2019 HASTINGS, HAILSHAM AND SEAFORD
  • 25/10/2019 ISFIELD AND LITTLE HORSTED
  • 26/10/2019 EWHURST & STAPLE CROSS, LITTLEHAMPTON, FIRLE, HEATHFIELD
  • 2/11/2019 NEWICK, BATTLE, EDENBRIDGE
  • 3/11/2019 ROBIN HOOD
  • 5/11/2019 LEWES, LINDFIELD
  • 9/11/2019 EAST HOATHLY & HALLAND, CHAILEY, SOUTH HEIGHTON AND RYE
  • 16/11/2019 ROBERTSBRIDGE, BARCOMBE AND NEVILLE

If you do get the opportunity to get to one of the dates, please remember that there are hot tar barrels being corralled up and down the street, fireworks and a torchlit procession and as such may not be suitable for young children.  Furthermore, as a result of their notoriety, particularly since the arrival of social media, these events are getting bigger every year and as they are held in small towns, the crowds can bring about traffic issues so be aware of this before you go along.

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AFTER DARK BONFIRE NIGHT SPECTACULAR

WHAT: AFTER DARK
WHY: SHEFFIELD’S PREMIER BONFIRE NIGHT SPECTACULAR
WHEN: THURSDAY 5th NOVEMBER 2015
WHERE: DON VALLEY GRASS BOWL, COLLERIDGE ROAD, SHEFFIELD, S9 2DF

Almost on our doorstep, one of the biggest Bonfire Night displays in Yorkshire returns once again but even bigger and better.

As visitors to our Head Office will be aware, we are based at Tankersley just two minutes from Junction 36 of the M1. As you might appreciate, we were a little busy on the ‘fab fifth’ (as we usually are) but last year but some of our staff watched part of the display from just outside our showroom, such is the magnitude of the pyro exhibition.

Attracting over 20,000 spectators this massive display in association with Heart FM will again feature music from some of the country’s top performers, a fun fair for all ages, an enormous bonfire lit at 7:30pm with fireworks set to music starting at 9.00pm with the event finishing at 10.00pm.

As well as the usual concession stands, drinks are available from over the road at Ice Sheffield which overlooks the event.

Gates open at 5:30pm for this all ticket event. Advanced tickets are available from the Sheffield Arena box office by phone on 0114 2228500, the University of Sheffield student union shop on Western Bank (0114 225 5555), S10 2GT and City Hall on 0114 223 3740.

On the night cash only payments can be made at Ice Sheffield on Colleridge Road and the Terry Street ticket booths.

Travelling to the venue couldn’t be easier as there are plenty of the trams on the ‘yellow route’ heading towards Meadowhall (from across Sheffield) which will drop you off on the doorstep with stewards on hand to direct you towards the entrance and increased buses on the night in expectation for the massive number of spectators attending, parking for those wishing to drive is available at Ice Sheffield and the surrounding areas, these as always are at a premium so plan to get there early for the better spots.

Alcohol is not permitted in the arena but there are a few bars around, just beware that stewards will refuse entry to anyone who they feel is “incapable” so take it steady.

Fireworks of any type are also banned in the arena this includes sparklers and Chinese lanterns, these if found will be confiscated and not returned on exit.

As we mentioned again we won’t be able to attend but if you are lucky enough to be going please send us your comments, photographs and video’s.

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