Remember, remember the Fifth of November The Gunpowder Treason
Now is the time for marching Now let your hearts be gay Hark to
Argus Press Cutting 2001 - Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations
April 6, 2014 at 7:48 pm by v
Blazing Anger Ignites Terrorist…
The people of Lewes sent out a message of defiance as thousands gathered to watch their public enemy number one burned at the stake last night. The effigy of Osama Bin Laden was set to go up in flames during the town’s famous annual November 5 celebrations. The 30ft figure, made of papier mache and chicken wire over a wooden frame, was the centre piece of Cliffe Bonfire Society’s traditional display.
It showed bin Laden sitting on a toilet with an American eagle clawing at his back. The figure was one of the most popular displays on the night when Lewes’ five bonfire societies traditionally battle it out for the coveted title of best display. Lewes residents had been adamant they would outdo themselves after last year’s floods.
Bonfire Night Is As Big As Ever…
The air was thick with smoke as 31 processions wound their way around the streets of Lewes last night. An estimated 80,000 people watched one of the most spectacular bonfire events in the country at Lewes last night. This year’s Bonfire Night celebrations was marked in awesome style as if to make up for last year’s difficulties following the worst floods of 40 years and a scaled down version of the annual spectacle. Last night the crowds were bigger than ever.
Special trains were laid on to ferry thousands of people into the town from across Sussex. The people of Lewes sent out a message of defiance, watching public enemy number one burned at the stake. The 30ft effigy of Osama bin Laden, made of papier mache and chicken wire over a wooden frame, was the centre piece of Cliffe Bonfire Society’s traditional display. It showed bin Laden sitting on a toilet with an American eagle clawing at his back and the figure was one of the most popular displays.
The Stars and Stripes of the American flag were additions made to several processions which journeyed through the streets. Mike John, 28, travelled by train from Newhaven to see the spectacle. He said: “This is the first time I’ve been and it’s truly incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it in this country or abroad”. The November 5 celebrations have been marked in Lewes since 1606, a year after the Gunpowder Plot when Guy Fawkes’ plan to blow up Parliament, kill the King, and install a Catholic monarch, was foiled.
Those celebrations which are unique to England have, during the last 396 years, evolved into an incredible sight which attracts people from across the globe. Some of the traditions at the event date back four centuries to a time when Lewes, like most of Southern England, was governed by the favoured doctrine of the day. Many of the present day bonfire ceremonies in Lewes, particularly the Cliffe Society’s, remember the 17 Protestant martyrs who were burned at the stake during this period.
Last night’s processions began with all five societies paying their respects to the town’s war dead by laying a wreath at the War Memorial on the High Street before the celebrations got under way with a spectacle of sights, sounds and smells as the processions brought the town to life. The processions of Zulu warriors with multi-coloured feather head-dresses 4ft high, Vikings, Cavaliers and Roundheads, Scots pipers and drummers,were lit by burning torches and marine flares, as well as fireworks which filled the sky.
Fire crackers were let off in the street, adding to the cacophony of noise created by marching brass bands, jazz bands and the roars and chants of the crowd. May Hodson, of Kemp Town, Brighton, said: “I’ts just awesome that’s all I can think of to say, it’s just awesome”. The celebrations attracted crowds 12 deep on the narrow pavements jostling for a glimpse. Organisers warned the event was not for the young, the elderly or those of a nervous disposition and once the bands struck up, the torches were lit and the processions began, the pageantry of the occasion took over.
The evening was rounded off with a finale of five bonfire displays dotted around the town and organised by five main societies from the town, Cliffe, Commercial Square, South Street, Waterloo and Lewes Borough, who battle it out to provide the best show every year. Superintendent Simon Parr, in charge of policing at Lewes, said fine weather attracted more people. There were 21 casualties treated by ambulance staff, mainly for minor burns, and one person was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Mr Parr said about 10,000 travelled into the town from Brighton and Eastbourne and he was disappointed they ignored advice to stay away. He congratulated emergency services, councils and organisers for managing the event.
The Argus, Tuesday, November 6, 2001 www.theargus.co.uk
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