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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Bonfire Night Dictionary - Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations

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I got bored one evening waiting for bonfire night so here we go ! . . . Got good ole google to give me a hand here in places to help me build the ultimate bonfire night dictionary and thesaurus . . he he.


1. A colorless volatile flammable liquid, C2H5OH, synthesized or obtained by fermentation of sugars and starches and widely used, either pure or denatured, as a solvent and in drugs, cleaning solutions, explosives and intoxicating beverages. Also called ethanol, ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol.

2. Intoxicating liquor containing alcohol.

3. Any of a series of hydroxyl compounds, the simplest of which are derived from saturated hydrocarbons, have the general formula CnH2n+1OH, and include ethanol and methanol.

An essential ingredient for the bonfire night celebration which includes Harveys bitter, whisky, vodka, cherry brandy and such like, should be drunk in moderation or serious side effects can occur i.e. dizziness, nausea, giggling, and saying stupid things.


A device or emblem worn as an insignia of rank, office or membership in an organization.

Most bonfire societies issue badges for their bonfire night celebrations and are usually referred to as the bonfire badge, a lot of swapping etc goes on.


Banger . . . A firework that explodes with a sudden loud noise.

Banger . . . A saussage.

Banger . . . An old car.

Banger . . . Slang for firearm.

Banger . . . Stock car racing formula.

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Rookie . . . A firework that explodes with a sudden loud noise, Also known as a Rook Scarer . . . a device to fighten little birds away. There is a large population of Rooks in Lewes.

Rookie . . . An inexperienced person; a novice.

Rookie . . . First year player.

Many moons ago so the story goes, A string of the above were affixed to the underside of Cliffe Bridge the night before the fifth and timed to start going off during the next morning`s shopping period, the river that morning was at its lowest for the day so nobody could get to them to stop them from going off. Much annoyance was felt and heard every 30 minutes or so for six hours. Lol

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Rouser . . . To arouse from slumber, apathy or depression, possibly as in a rabbit !
Or a leader or speaker who stirs up the passions of the masses.

Lewes Rouser . . . Homemade Firework.

Lewes Rouser : SquibThe Lewes Rouser or Squib which was a home made firework about 6″ long with a thickness of a marker pen, the Lewes Rouser had a very unpredictable nature and basically it would shoot along the ground in many different directions before going bang, but in what direction it was anyone’s guess. The Lewes Rouser or Squib was banned by the authorities in 1904 and by the bonfire society’s in the 50s I believe, that’s not to say they were not seen any more!, in fact I have seen several variations fairly recently.

Squib . . . A small firework.

All of the above are throw down fireworks that help a bonfire night go bang !!!


The flag borne by each separate tribe, of a smaller form.
Probably it bore on it the name of the tribe to which it belonged, or some
distinguishing device.

The bonfire banners come in several forms , cloth , metal or wood and may depict events , Guy Fawkes , The Pope or society badge.

The cloth versions are usually around 12ft wide and can be a hand full to carry on bonfire night if it is windy requiring four persons or more to carry safely, the smaller ones are affixed to buildings etc and many are now very old. Some are now to brittle to be used, usually what you see is the torch banner and will have the bonfire society logo or name on it, has 3 or more torches in it and shaped like a shield.



Bonfire . . . [OE. bonefire, banefire, orig. a fire of bones; bone + fire; but cf. also Prov. E. bun a dry stalk.] A large fire built in the open air, as an expression of public joy and exultation, or for amusement.

The main focal point of the whole bonfire night, the bigger the better and it is built to exacting standards and pride with decent timber and is usually lit with the torches thrown in at the procession’s end. In most cases Guy Fawkes will be sitting on top.


The traditional term for the bonfire society revellers (of all ages and both sexes!) on Bonfire Night. They are now organised into Bonfire Societies.


November 5, observed in England to commemorate the foiling of the attempt led by Guy Fawkes in 1605 to blow up the king and members of Parliament in retaliation for the increasing resistance to Pope Paul V of the old Roman Church.

An Act of Parliament was passed on January 21st 1606 (3 James I, cap 1), to appoint 5th November in each year as a day of thanksgiving for ‘the joyful day of deliverance’. This was by bell ringing, bonfires and etc. The first recorded Celebration in Lewes took place in 1606.

In Lewes it will be on November 4th if the 5th falls on a Sunday, most areas will have it the nearest Saturday, but in Sussex U.K. there are many bonfire night celebrations starting from mid September and run through till mid November, most of them follow a similar format, fancy dress competitions, processions, bonfire, fireworks, sore heads !


Organisations founded to keep alive the spirit of Bonfire in Lewes and Sussex, Each Bonfire Society has its own traditions and costumes etc.


Burger. . . A sandwich consisting of a bun, a cooked beef patty, and often other ingredients such as cheese, onion slices, lettuce, or condiments. Often used in combination: a cheeseburger.

Hot Dog . . . A frankfurter, especially one served hot in a long soft roll. Also called red-hot.

Chips . . . A thin, usually fried slice of food, especially a potato chip. Often used in the plural.

More essential ingredients for a successful bonfire night, choose the right vendor and you have a guaranteed cure for constipation!


To observe (a day) or commemorate (an event) with ceremonies or festivities.

The act, process, or time of celebrating.

To have or participate in a party, drinking spree, or uninhibited good time. Enjoying oneself on bonfire night, drink and be merry, its nearly my birthday!

Chinese Crackers CelebrationCHINESE CRACKERS

Chinese . . . Of or pertaining to China; peculiar to China.

Crackers . . . Small fireworks, consisting of a little powder enclosed in a thick paper cylinder with a fuse and exploding with a sharp noise; — often called celebration firecracker.

On a decent bonfire night these chinese celebration crackers will be heard all night, a big favorite for the bonfire boys and girls and yours truly!



Certain members of some Bonfire Societies dress up as clergy and are the target of hand-launched fireworks at the fire sites. Originally this was to mock Pope Paul V of the old the Roman Catholic church, perceived as being behind the Gunpowder Plot, Now it is just tradition. And they will mock Guy Fawkes and any other enemies of bonfire as well.


1. A style of dress, including garments, accessories and hairstyle, especially as characteristic of a particular country, period, or people.

2. An outfit or a disguise worn on Mardi Gras, Halloween, or similar occasions.

3. A set of clothes appropriate for a particular occasion or season.

A form of dress that can take many months to make and most bonfire societies will have a dress code i.e. Red Indians, Zulus, Vikings, Tudor etc etc, in the olden days of Lewes it would have been a white smock then stripy guernsey, white trousers, blacked out faces, all for disguise in the rogue days of bonfire night which has now evolved to what is seen today.


1. An opening or unfolding; exhibition; manifestation.

2. Ostentatious show; exhibition for effect; parade.

Showing of your pyrotechnical skills on bonfire night as in effigies, tabs, flame bursts or son-et-lumière.


1. A crude figure or dummy representing a hated person.

2. A likeness or image, especially of a person.

Idiom: . . . In Effigy

Symbolically, especially in the form of an effigy: The deposed dictator was burned in effigy by the crowd.

To highlight a problem or event on bonfire night an effigy is made and stuffed with fireworks, famous examples being Pope V and Guy Fawkes, but others are included as and when the need arises!  Not every bonfire society burns the pope but occasionally one might have a bit of fun on bonfire night, burning something else.


A costume worn as a disguise at a masquerade party.

Generally speaking this is not a term used by the Lewes Bonfire Societies, we use the term bonfire costume, Fancy Dress is usually referred to the more colorful and silly examples seen on bonfire night.


The Fifth of November, the anniversary of the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. Pyrotechnical celebrations of the event are common throughout the country, but have survived in a very dramatic form in Sussex, and especially in Lewes. This may be because of the burning at the stake in Lewes of seventeen Protestant martyrs.


A device for producing a striking display of light, or a figure or figures in plain or colored fire, by the combustion of materials that burn in some peculiar manner, as gunpowder, sulphur, metallic filings, and various salts. The most common feature of fireworks is a paper or pasteboard tube filled with the combustible material.

A number of these tubes or cases are often combined so as to make, when kindled, a great variety of figures in fire, often variously colored. The skyrocket is a common form of firework. The name is also given to various combustible preparations used in war.

The best part of bonfire night for most and comes in many forms.


Flame 1. The zone of burning gases and fine suspended matter associated with rapid combustion; a hot, glowing mass of burning gas or vapor.

Flame 2. The condition of active, blazing combustion: burst into flame.

Flame 3. Something resembling a flame in motion, brilliance, intensity, or shape.

Ball 1. A spherical object or entity: a steel ball.

Ball 2. A spherical or almost spherical body: a ball of flame.

Burst 1. A sudden outbreak or outburst; an explosion.

Burst 2. The result of bursting, especially the explosion of a projectile or bomb on impact or in the air.


1. To flame up with a bright, wavering light.

2. To burst into intense, sudden flame.

We use pretty red marine distress flares in the Lewes bonfire night processions, makes everything look pretty and difficult to photograph, the coastal societies and police are not to  keen on them though, can’t think why!



The organized activity or an instance of soliciting money or pledges, as for charitable organizations or political campaigns.

An ongoing process that never ends, and needs to be done as all the costs of a bonfire night celebration are borne by the individual bonfire society, all manner of ways are used to raise cash, subscriptions, jumble sales, race nights, sponsored walks, etc etc, some are lucky and get a bit of help but that is far and few between.


In 1605, a group of plotters attempted to “blow up the King and the Parliament” by placing gunpowder in its cellars. The discovery of the gunpowder plot ensured the Protestant succession in England, and has been celebrated throughout the country ever since. The most well known plotter is Guy Fawkes : Bonfire Night is also called Guy Fawkes Night.


Guy (Guido) Fawkes was one of the Gunpowder Plotters. Effigies in his likeness are destroyed on Bonfire Night, and have become known as “guys”


English conspirator executed for his role in the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to kill James I and blow up Parliament on November 5, 1605, to avenge the persecution of the Roman Catholic Church in England.

The only man ever to enter parliament with honest intentions and managed to screw that up, so on bonfire night we carry on where he left and make a lot of noise!


November 5, observed in England to commemorate the foiling of the attempt led by Guy Fawkes in 1605 to blow up the king and members of Parliament.

An Act of Parliament was passed on January 21st 1606 (3 James I, cap 1), to appoint 5th November in each year as a day of thanksgiving for ‘the joyful day of deliverance’. This was by bell ringing, bonfires etc.

In Lewes it will be on November 4th if the 5th falls on a Sunday, most areas will have it the nearest Saturday, but in Sussex U.K. there are many bonfire night celebrations starting from mid September and run through till mid November, most of them follow a similar format, fancy dress competitions – processions – bonfire – fireworks – sore heads!


The act of insuring, or assuring, against loss or damage by a contingent event; a contract whereby, for a stipulated consideration, called premium, one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee another against loss by certain specified risks, A very dirty word within the Lewes Bonfire Area!


1. One who chooses to suffer death rather than renounce religious principles.

2. One who makes great sacrifices or suffers much in order to further a belief, cause, or principle.

3. One who endures great suffering: a martyr to arthritis.

4. One who makes a great show of suffering in order to arouse sympathy.

Seventeen were burned at the stake in Lewes during Pope Paul IV Papacy, hence the 17 crosses paraded on Lewes bonfire night, some other societies have similar customs, one of the main reasons why Lewes celebrate bonfire night as they do . . . Lest We Forget


The time after sunset and before sunrise while it is dark outside.
When it is dark !

No Popery Burning BannerNO POPERY

No . . . Opposite of yes !!!

Popery . . . The practice of absolute power under the religion of the old Roman Catholic Church, comprehending doctrines and practices, which included control of what creed you followed, your effects, finances, family, politics, law etc etc. Generally used in an opprobrious sense. It Does Not Mean No Catholics.

The term is seen and used mainly in the Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations.


Out . . . Away from a usual place : stepped out for a drink of water; went out for the evening.

Meeting 1 . . . The act or process or an instance of coming together; an encounter.

Meeting 2 . . . An assembly or gathering of people, as for a business, social, or religious purpose.

If for example Joe Bloggs Bonfire Society attends the Raggy Anne bonfire night celebration, this is called an outmeeting, nearly all the Sussex bonfire societies attend other bonfire night celebrations.


Most Bonfire Societies have long-standing traditions about who marches where in the processions. There are groups of members who all dress in the same costume. Those in the first group are called the (1st) Pioneers , those in the second group the 2nd Pioneers etc.



The Bonfire Societies have a close but tense relationship with the Police on Bonfire Night. In years gone by, arrests of Bonfire Boys were not uncommon, and there have been several attempts by the authorities to stop the celebrations altogether.

Even now there is often criticism of perceived heavy handedness, and the large number of officers, especially those brought in for the evening from outside Lewes, generates particular resentment. The Force, however, maintains that its strong presence is necessary to keep public order. It is looking at ways to use modern technology to lower its profile.

“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody” . . . Thomas Paine


The head of the Roman Catholic Church [syn: pontiff, Holy Father, Vicar of Christ]

The Pope at the time of the Gunpowder Plot, Pope Paul V, is burnt in effigy along with Guy Fawkes by several of the Societies.

The term is seen and used mainly in the Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations.


Procession 1 . . . The act of proceeding, moving on, advancing, or issuing; regular, orderly, or ceremonious progress; continuous course.

Procession 2 . . . That which is moving onward in an orderly, stately, or solemn manner; a train of persons advancing in order; a ceremonious train; a retinue; as, a procession of mourners; the Lord Mayor’s procession.

The host society will lead the bonfire night procession, followed by the visiting bonfire societies and bands and will proceed through their major areas of the town before arriving at the bonfire site for the bonfire and firework display.


Pyrotechnics 1 . . . The art of making fireworks; the manufacture and use of fireworks; pyrotechny.

Pyrotechnics 2 . . . Showing of your pyrotechnical skills on bonfire night as in tabs, effigies, flame bursts or son-et-lumière!

Remembrance Lewes BonfireREMEMBRANCE

Lewes Bonfire has strong connections with Remembrance, not least because of the proximity of Armistice Day (11th November) to the Fifth. Early in the evening, each Bonfire Society in turn processes to the Lewes War Memorial at the top of School Hill, and commemorates the Martyrs and its fallen Bonfire Boys in both world wars and battles since, in its own unique way.

The processions of remembrance mark a solemn moment in the evening’s events in Lewes, before the exuberance and irreverence that follows.


A piece of scenery intended to stand alone as part of the stage setting.

Similar to a tableaux or effigy but usually just topical and not pointing the finger at anyone and the fireworks attached to the front or back of it, rather than inside.


Society 1 . . . A group of humans broadly distinguished from other groups by mutual interests, participation in characteristic relationships, shared institutions, and a common culture.

Society 2 . . . All members sharing the common interest of the bonfire night celebration and each having particular skills or contacts to make it go with a bang, more than Guy Fawkes achieved!


Tableau \Ta`bleau”\, n.; pl. Tableaux. [F., dim. fr. L. tabula a painting.]

1. . . A striking and vivid representation; a picture.

2. . . A representation of some scene by means of persons grouped in the proper manner, placed in appropriate postures, and remaining silent and motionless.

To highlight a problem or event a tableaux is made and stuffed with fireworks, famous examples being the Pope and Guy Fawkes, but others are included as and when the need arises ! . . Not every bonfire society burns the pope but occasionally have a bit of fun.


A portable light produced by the flame of a stick of resinous wood or of a flammable material wound about the end of a stick of wood; a flambeau.

A 3ft stick with sacking or w.h.y. wired on the end and dipped in paraffin, and carried during the bonfire night celebration in the processions.


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