in Weird & Wonderful at in Lewes
05 November 2012 - 05 November 2012 (TBC)
05 November 2013 - 05 November 2013 (TBC)
Lewes' famous celebrations of 1605's gunpowder plot downfall are unrivalled across England. Its raucous parade winds through steep, cobbled streets with colourful costumes, flaming torches and ear-splitting bangers. The smoke-filled air is full of shouts and beating drums.
It's not just Guy Fawkes' downfall that Lewes remembers. In the previous century Protestant martyrs were immolated outside the town's Star Inn during the Marian Persecutions under Mary Tudor in June 1556 and 1557. Given the localised nature of the commemorations, deeply rooted in the history of the town, outsiders are gently discouraged, especially because the narrow streets are easily overcrowded. The event is run by Lewes people for Lewes people.
Bonfire boys and girls, men and women, are divided into separate societies sporting different costumes (up for prizes annually on the fourth Friday of October) and occupy a different area. Some drag huge metal barrels filled with burning tar down the hill to the River Ouse, which are ceremoniously thrown from the bridge.
Towards the end of the evening, the crowds head up to several bonfire sites on the surrounding hills. The steep climb is well worth the effort, as you can see all the firework displays for miles around.
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