Last Saturday we went to the Hailsham Bonfire Torchlight procession. Yes. I know that it's still about 2 weeks until November 5th, but the town bonfires in Sussex are staggered. This is because they all have processions and go to each others. this means, of course, that they have to be on different nights, the most famous one being that at Lewes. Actually, they go on from September!
It appears that after the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, an Act was passed in Parliament making it law that people celebrate this day. The celebrations were to include a church service to thank God for rescuing the ountry from the Papist plot.
This Act was repealed in, I think, the 19th century and the celebration of Bonfire night dropped off, except in Sussex where it continued. I suspect, but do not know for sure, that these probably involved a torchlight procession.
We went with some friends and watched. It was a mild night after much rain in the morning. The torchbearers were all in costume. some were in period costume, and I was pleased to see that the 'Archbishop of Canterbury' was present, and also that 'Queen Victoria' had deigned to come from her grave to attend. There were also smugglers and one group, with a nod to Hallowe'en, were dressed as zombies and skeletons.
Bangers were let off at intervals, making the watching public jump.
After the procession had finished, and a short service and laying of a wreath held at the War Memorial (it's quite close to poppy day after all,) the procession and many of the people went to the lighting of the bonfire, the detonation of the effigy and the fireworks. We,however, decided to go for a swift pint in the local pub, whose doors we were conveniently standing next to!
Am I being curmudgenly? When we went into the pub it was fairly quiet and we found a nice table in the corner. Then people started to come in with their children! Soon the pub had at least as many little kids running around as adults. I feel that there should be some places where adults can go without having little kids running around, (and they were running around, chasing each other and hiding from each other) and the pub should be one of them. When I was growing up, children were not allowed through the pub doors; then they were allowed in if they were eating. Now it seems they are allowed in with the only stipulation being that they are not at the bar.
Here are some photos of the torchlight procession .