Lewes Bonfire On My Doorstep

Bonfire came to my home town of Lewes last night – the roads were closed to motor vehicles and opened to a wonderfully sprawling and anarchic crowd of fire wielding Lewesians in a ceremony that has given Lewes the most celebrated November the Fifth celebrations in the country.

It has always been a vivid event for me whether as the venue for my first major hangover, the first time I was ever beaten up, or just as a place for reckless fun. In fact this often wild event has led me enjoyably astray over many years now.

Two years ago I moved to the centre of Lewes town and celebrated Bonfire from a house I had yet to move into and made first contact with the help of a bottle of Malt Whiskey with my new neighbours who have been friends ever since.

Last year, I was meant to be marching with a troupe of Jedi warriors as Obi Wan Kenobi but instead I was lying in hospital after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

This year, I was tempted to march again, this time as a Zombie in celebration of the late and great Michael Jackson but, I am still not recovered enough to risk burning missiles hitting me on the head so I decided to let the celebrations come to me which of course it was going to do anyway – it walks right past my front door and I just have to look out of the window to see crowds of revolutionaries marching in the name, well I like to think this, of freedom and independence. Throughout the evening friends and neighbours came in and out for a whiskey or just gathered around my open door. It was great but next year I shall definitely be out there on that march.

If you want to know the background to the November 5th. celebrations then take a look at yesterday’s blog but here are some photographs from last night. I live near the centre of town and my area belong to the Commercial Square Bonfire Society who are identified by their predominantly yellow smugglers’ jerseys but there are other costumes too, noticeably the Native American who have been part of our tradition at least since the march of 1907.

In the 19th Century a number of Lewes men went to America to work on building the railways and they came across some Native Americans who they thought were living in appalling conditions and when they returned the pledged to remember them every year in the Commercial Square March. Bonfire is all about the underdog, the victim and personal freedom and ends with a mock sermon and bonfire where this year’s baddies are consigned to the flames. Long may it continue and long may I find unexpectedly enjoyable new experiences on Bonfire Night here in Lewes amidst the controlled anarchy.

Enjoy the photographs and double click on them if you want to look at them on full screen.

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