Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bonfire Night

One of my favourite days of the English calendar is November 5th, We call it Guy Fawkes or Bonfire night. To cut a long story short : In 1605 a dodgy geezer by the name of Guy Fawkes and a few of his mates plotted to blow up King James 1st and our Houses of Parliament. This became known as the Gunpowder plot & thankfully it was discovered before the dodgy individuals involved could carry out their plan. Due to their being very naughty they were subsequently tortured and then executed.
Every year on November 5th the people of England remember this event by holding bonfire and firework parties throughout the land, either in their gardens or at large organised displays.
The oldest of these displays is the one held in the town of Battle in East Sussex, there are records of it going back as far as 1646, one record shows that in 1686 ,17 shillings and 6 pence was “expended at gunpowder treason for rejoicing”.
For the second year in a row I took my lion cubs down to Battle to see this display. We arrived early in order to get a good place to see the parade as the High Street gets packed with people coming to enjoy the evening. We took our place near the Abbey and waited for the parade to start. Crowds soon gathered and took their place on the street, fireworks and rockets were zooming above the old buildings and we saw the flaming torches of the parade appear at the top of the street. The parade consisted of various groups known as ‘bonfire boyes’ and they had differing themes of dress, some as Anglo Saxons, some as Ravens, Pirates and lots of other combinations, even a Homer Simpson was present this year. They paraded down the street with hundreds of flaming torches and stopped outside the Abbey where the Dean of Battle lit a bonfire to the sound of bangers and explosions. The parade then moved on and the crowds followed on behind as it moved on down to Senlac Hill. This is the hill where the battle of Hastings was fought. Finally on the battlefield we were treated to the lighting of the big bonfire and the most fantastic firework display, the finale being the explosion of an effigy of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown with rockets galore. If you find yourself in the south east of England for bonfire night 2007 why not come down to Battle. Check the following website for details: