In 52 photos: Historic Sussex town burns boat in spectacular bonfire celebrations

The streets of the medieval town of Rye were a river of fire at the weekend when it held its traditional bonfire celebrations.

Bonfire Societies from across Sussex carrying flaming torches took part in a procession through the streets which ended with a giant bonfire and a fireworks display.

Rye Bonfire Society, in keeping with tradition, burned a boat on the bonfire. It was a nod to the days when Bonfire Night in the ancient port town was a riotous and lawless affair. Traditionally, it was a time for settling old scores and there were several cases of unpopular officials and shopkeepers being tarred and feathered, or for people to have their boats seized by the bonfire boys and burned.

By contrast, the celebrations now are well ordered and enjoyed by families.

Rye Fawkes this year, who had the honour of lighting the bonfire, was long time bonfire society stalwart Willie Wicking.

Pictures by Andrew Clifton

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