Bonfire Prayers

Remember, remember the Fifth of November The Gunpowder Treason

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Bonfire Anthem

Now is the time for marching Now let your hearts be gay Hark to

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Bonfires Back On The Streets - Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations

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The re-establishment of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England by Pope Pius IX brought fires, torches, tar barrels, rockets and rousers back on to the streets of Lewes after several years of off-road celebrations at Wallands.

There was a huge fire at Cliffe Corner on the Fifth and another outside County Hall (Now The Law Courts), where a 3,000 strong crowd listened approvingly to a denunciation of Papal interference in the religious affairs of the country. Bonfire had become respectable and as the years passed the pageantry of protest became much more organised.

By 1853 the Cliffe Bonfire Society was in existence. The costume of disguise for its members was a white shirt worn outside of red trousers. The Borough Society, which was formed at about the same time, wore white trousers and black and white striped jerseys.

The evening started with a tar barrel run up the high street to Cliffe bridge and back to the fire site at Cliffe Corner, where, after they had been paraded through the streets, the various effigies and tableaux were burned.

Tar Barrel Lewes : Bonfires Are Back On The Streets

As the years passed and more societies were formed, the parades of costumed figures carrying lighted torches and accompanied by ‘bands of music’ became more organised and formed a larger part of the evenings entertainment for the onlookers.

It was the Cliffe Bonfire Society that introduced a `Lord Bishop in full canonicals` to preach a sermon before the burning of the effigies. ‘Thou shalt not steal” would have been an apt text for the sermon at Cliffe’s 1859 fire, for on it was an effigy of the member who had made off with the society’s money box. It was burnt with far more enthusiasm than the effigy of the Pope.

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