The current Bonfire celebrations in East Sussex are held by a number of societies from
villages and the small towns in the county .
The celebrations are held throughout the area during November and
consist of noisy processions, the burning of effegies and fantastic
fireworks displays .
The original celebrations are based on
the failure of the attempt of Guy(Guido) Fawkes to assassinate King
James I and parliament on the 5th November 1605.
of celebration seem to have originally come from Battle which was the center of
gunpowder manufacturing from the 1676 to the early 1800's. Battle
parish records of the 5th November 1686 show an entry that a payment
of seventeen shillings and six pence was made for 'Bonfire
Rejoycings'. The Battle Bonfire guy effigy has a wooden head which is claimed to be
over 200 years old which before the ceremonial burning the body on the
bonfire the guy is beheaded and the head returned to Battle Museum. The guy can be
seen at Battle Museum at the
Almonry in Battle during its opening times April 1st to October 31st.
Mark Antony Lower (1814-1876) was a Sussex historian who founded the
Sussex Archaeological Society and with an etching of the " Sussex
Martyrs " by James Henry Hurdis is believed to have started the "
cult of the Sussex Martyrs " during 1851. He seems to have based the
idea on the Battle Bonfire celebrations.
Since then the county town of Lewes and Battle have become the centers
of the Bonfire celebrations, with numerous
societies in the surrounding villages, the Lewes events in the past
even had flaming tar barrels rolled down the main high street.
The modern Bonfire celebrations are held to provide funds for local charities. The
usual format of the events held throughout the area in November
consist of a long procession with a large number of Bonfire
societies marching with banners, drums, Fireworks and torches then
to an area with a large Bonfire many stories high, and a finale of
the most amazing Fireworks display .
These processions are a noisy and colourful event with people marching in all manner of
outfits from the monks from Robertsbridge to jailbirds, confederates, world war 2
soldiers, Saxon warriors and all manners of other outfits. There are many flaring
torches, flares and Fireworks and drummers making the events very atmospheric. The
most atmospheric event is held at Robertsbridge , this is because the
village center is very old dating back to the 1100's, this together
with very few lights makes the event feel as though time has been
turned back to medieval times, especially with armoured Saxon
warriors marching down the high street.