The Lewes Bonfire Societies : Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations
There are at present seven active bonfire societies in Lewes, Cliffe Bonfire Society, Lewes Borough Bonfire Society, Commercial Square Bonfire Society, South Street Bonfire Society, Waterloo Bonfire Society, Southover Bonfire Society and Nevill Juvenile Bonfire Society which have their own bonfire night celebration a couple of weeks earlier.
For timings of the processions, fireworks etc, of any of the Lewes Bonfire Societies bonfire night celebration, Visit any worthy newsagent, shop, pub or pop along to the High Street on any Saturday in Lewes in the three weeks leading up to the celebrations or early afternoon on the day, or visit the Bonfire Society website and buy a programme, you will be helping to raise funds for them in doing so. Makes for interesting reading as well.
There is some bigotry of some society members towards other bonfire societies, But in my book, all the bonfire societies are equal in the sense that they are all celebrating the freedom of/from oppression, speech, authoritarianism, etc and without them the Lewes Bonfire Celebrations would not be worthwhile or exist.
They were all formed at different times and the earliest being around 1850, I am not going to get involved as to who was first or when, as this is not 100% clear as day follows night, but will say that there were others in the past and that they have long gone, and that they were formed out of a need to be more “user friendly” as before there would be riots, street fires etc and the bonfire night celebrations were in danger of being closed down altogether, so the bonfire boye was born with his Hooped Guernsey and blackened face.
Over the course of time when the bonfire night celebrations became more acceptable, their outfits became costumes of allsorts (NOT FANCY DRESS) some basic, others very elaborate, taking a year or even more to design and make, which help to make the Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations the spectacular event it is today but to reiterate LEST WE FORGET the reasons behind it all.
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The 7 Lewes Bonfire Societies
My Heart's In The Bonfire
Warm Welcome to Lewes, Farewell to elsewheres,
The birth-place of Bonfire,The small town that dares;
Wherever I wander, Wherever I rove,
The hills of the Bonfire for ever I love.