Good old Bonfire Night will soon be upon us. Just to give a taste of things to come, here is an Express photograph of Bonfire prayers by one of the societies in 1968. A fiery event.
A potted history: Within three months of the Gunpowder Plot being discovered, an Act of Parliament was passed on January 21,1606, to appoint November 5 in each year as a day of thanksgiving for ‘the joyful day of deliverance’.
This was carried out by bell ringing and bonfires.
Several references can be found in an old Lewes churchwarden’s account book referring to payments made to bell ringers on November 5 from at least 1661/
A particular interesting entry dated November 5, 1723, states: ‘Nov, ye 5th. Item: Pd. ye ringers being ye day of Deliverance from ye powder plot.’
The earliest known Lewes bonfire night celebration was in 1795 when the Sussex Weekly Advertiser reported a bonfire and fireworks in a street of Lewes near the old Star Inn (Now The Town Hall) on November 5.
There was a bonfire night riot in 1829, when the Lewes Bonfire Boys had a sharp encounter with a local Magistrate, Mr Whitfield JP, on the Cliffe Bridge during the evening, when the authorities had attempted, and failed, to prevent the famous celebrations from taking place. All power to Bonfire.