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Bonfire time (1 Viewer)

Olly Buckle

There was a frost the other morning and it's bonfire time here in E.Sussex.
There are bonfire Societies all over the place in this part of the world, Rye, Hastings, Battle, and our village has one of the oldest.
Preparations begin early in the day, the rabbit must go in the bathroom, the cat must not be fed so he hangs about and can be put in the bedroom and ,after the big board has gone over the window, the owl will go into the Kitchen on her block so all eating has to be done before that.
The road is shut from about our house so any running around has to be done before that and the cars covered against falling ash.
After the fancy dress competition in the village hall the procession forms up outside our house before marching through the village and on to the next village, about a mile and a half and back. Older residents tell me that in their youth it would parade around all three villages in the parish, but that was before motor cars became common and there was no need to shut off the road.
The bonfire societies arrange their fires on different weekends so they do not clash and they can attend each others fires. The fancy dress competition in the hall is mainly for village children who dress up as anything they want, but the individual societies dress up according to a theme, circus, highwaymen, pirates, seamen, 1920's etc. and each group arranges behind it's banner with the host s at the front. There are also usually a couple of floats pulled by tractors, Sparky the dragon from Rye is a regular, and Westfield jazz band in rather battered white caps. If Hastings turn out in force the Hastings drummers come dressed all in black with top hats with pheasant feathers and red ribbons and hammer out a solid primitive rhythm. Chestnut staves with one end wrapped in felt and dipped are lit and handed out to the procession and renewed every so often. At the back of the procession come guys dragging metal tubs, rumbling along on metal castors, that the spent torches are thrown into.
When the procession arrives back in the village it stops outside the village shop and a huge basket of firecrackers is lit whilst the village name on two poles is set light to and then carried through the village to the field at the back of our house. Here the procession marches down to the bonfire whilst the onlookers are let in to the top of the field, then the procession chant the full version of "Gunpowder, treason and plot" , give three cheers, shout "God save the Queen" and throw their torches on the fire to light it.
Then when the fire is going so that you can feel the heat fifty yards away the fireworks begin, that is something they take pride in doing properly. When the fireworks are done most people go home and the fire is left to the village youth who sit round it into the night.
A wild anarchic sort of a night with strong echoes of a primitive past.


Senior Member
Makes for a good read Olly. You described it so well, I wish I could visit your village for next year's bonfire night :) You could chop up a few of your sentences though, as some them are a little too long.


Senior Member
Very interesting. Here in America the closest festive activities we have to that would be our Fourth of July. We sit on the side of a mountain and watch the fireworks exploding high in the sky. Firecrackers are shot off and kids run around with sparklers grasped tightly in the hands. Pot lucks and picnic foods are bountiful. Lots of park games are played like the egg toss or throwing water filled ballons back and forth, etc. Much socializing, talking, and laughing. It's an all day affair with family and friends. :)