Tag Archives: Lewes

Lewes Bonfire Celebrations Are Well Under Way

Lewes Bonfire Parade

As we have featured before, the County of Sussex has a huge commitment to continuing the traditions set out even before Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators attempted to blow up the King and his supporters in Parliament. Going way back in history to 1555, the tradition of holding bonfires was done in recognition of the Protestant martyrs killed during the reign of Mary Tudor.

This weekend marks another round of Bonfire events in the region on the build-up to Bonfire Night when the major players in the Lewes Bonfire Societies hold their annual procession through the town of Lewes before splitting back up into their local groups to hold their own Bonfire’s and subsequent fireworks displays.

If you are in the area and would like to attend one of the events taking place, these are the details:

26th October 2013 (Saturday) Fletching Bonfire Night Celebrations

Starts at 6:30pm and includes a traditional Torchlit Procession (along with other visiting societies) Marching Bands, Fancy Dress competitions, a huge Bonfire and Firework display.

26th October 2013 (Saturday) Firle Bonfire Night Celebrations

Starts at 6:30pm and includes a traditional Torchlit Procession (along with other visiting societies) Marching Bands, Fancy Dress competitions, a huge Bonfire and Firework display.

26th October 2013 (Saturday) Staplecross Bonfire Night Celebrations

Starts at 6:30pm and includes a traditional Torchlit Procession (along with other visiting societies) Marching Bands, Fancy Dress competitions, a huge Bonfire and Firework display.

26th October 2013 (Saturday) Littlehampton Bonfire Night Celebrations

Starts at 6:30pm and includes a traditional Torchlit Procession (along with other visiting societies) Floats, marching bands, troupes, fun fair and the traditional Bonfire and Fireworks display.

The only one of these events which can really be described as suitable for children is the one at Littlehampton so be aware of this when making a decision as to which you would like to go along to.

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Lewes Bonfire Society Carry On Their Traditions

Lewes Bonfire Night 2001

The Lewes Bonfire celebration is the largest event of its kind in the world and held annually on November 5th in the otherwise peaceful county town of Lewes.

The Lewes Bonfire Society has held processions through the Town since the 1800’s when following the dissolution of the earlier Guy Fawkes celebrations by Oliver Crowell 1649 – 1660, they were re-introduced by King Charles II in 1820.  The first recorded parade of Guy Fawkes, enemies etc was in November 1679 when the Pope, Guy Fawkes and others were paraded in picture form on long poles by young armed men in Lewes.

However, the Bonfire Boys of yesteryear were a little over-zealous in their celebrations and they generally deteriorated into fighting and riots and once again, the Police had to redress the balance.

By the 1850’s, celebrations were fully re-introduced in a very similar format to those of today and the parades of the Lewes Bonfire Societies were allowed back on the streets.  The original societies were Lewes Borough and Cliffe and the others, most of which continue to this day were initiated around the late 19th Century.

In 1901, a memorial was erected on Cliffe Hill by public donation to commemorate the 17 Martyrs burned in Lewes for their religious beliefs.  A service of thanksgiving is held annually for the lives lost in the name of religion.

Today, Cliffe Hill (the site of the memorial) is fully floodlit during the Lewes Bonfire celebration parade and the area is treated like a consecrated ground.

Nowadays, 25 to 30 visiting Bonfire Societies from across the County intermingle on the narrow streets of Lewes. Each of the societies begins the event by parading their quarter before joining together for the main ‘street parade’.  They carry burning torches, effigies of the famous and sometimes infamous faces from history including The Pope, Colonel Gadaffi, George Bush and whichever ‘Celebrity’ happens to be hitting the headlines at the time.

As a footnote, this is not a family event where you can pop along for a coke and a candy floss.  It feels almost like a really fancy political march but the history behind it remains fascinating as the gathered societies have a wonderful, if not a particularly safety-conscious time but when all said and done, these are adults exercising their right to free speech and long may it continue.

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