We are looking to collect as many stories and tales as we can about Bonfire in Edenbridge. Each link below opens a story
Our fellow Bonfire Societies
The reason we celebrate Bonfire
There are different origins for the celebrations on November 5th
Some say that Bonfire was a Celtic or Pagan ceremony when each community lit a large fire at the beginning of winter… then carried embers into each of their homes. Some say Bonfire was to commemorate over 300 Protestant martyrs burned to death at the orders of Catholic Queen Mary during the Marian rage in the 16th century.
Many know Bonfire as the night where we celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot when Catholic activists planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Some suggest that many of the Kent and Sussex Bonfire Societies were re-invigorated after the First World War – an annual event to mark the tragic loss of life.
We just know that it’s a good excuse for a great night out!!
Gunpowder, treason and plot!
On the 5th November 1605 Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with several dozen barrels of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was subsequently tried as a traitor with his co-conspirators (Thomas Bates, Robert Wintour, Christopher Wright, John Wright, Thomas Percy, Robert Catesby and Thomas Wintour) for plotting against the government. Fawkes was tried by Judge Popham who came to London specifically for the trial from his country manor Littlecote House in Hungerford, Gloucestershire. He was sentenced to death and the form of the execution was one of the most horrendous ever practised (hung, drawn and quartered) which reflected the serious nature of the crime of treason.
The Tradition begins…
In 1606, the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving and act the King and Parliament commissioned a sermon to mark the anniversary of the capture of Fawkes. Lancelot Andrewes delivered the first of what became many Gunpowder Plot Sermons. The sermons (and the well known nursery rhyme) ensured that Fawkes’ crime would never be forgotten. “Remember, remember the 5th of November” serves as a warning that treason will never be forgotten.
150 years of Bonfire Societies
Nineteenth century antiquary Mark Antony Lower is credited with starting the “cult of the Sussex Martyrs” and this led to the creation of local Bonfire Societies who commemorated these events. Whereas Guy Fawkes’ night in most parts of Great Britain is traditionally commemorated at large public fireworks displays or small family bonfires, towns in Sussex and Kent hold huge gala events with fires, parades and festivals. The tradition has remained strong for 150 years becoming the highlight of the year for many towns and villages in the area. The Bonfire Societies use the events to collect money for local charities.
Due to the size and number of events it became impractical to hold all the bonfires on the traditional Fifth of November and this resulted in a ten week “bonfire season” starting with the Uckfield Carnival on the first Saturday of September and concluding with Robertsbridge and Barcombe festivals on the third Saturday of November.
The Mayfield bonfire celebrations commemorate two of the Lewes Martyrs who were from the village and four more martyrs that were executed in the village on 24th September 1556. A stone monument to the Martyrs stands in the church’s grounds. Mayfield’s procession and carnival takes place on the Saturday nearest to 24 September.