The Cliffe Society has its own mock clergy - low church Anglican,
I would imagine, given the style of their surplices and what is
known of the Cliffe's history. The clergy lead the Bonfire Prayers
which are recited both at the start of the proceedings at Cliffe
Corner (about 6-30 pm) and at the end (about 11-45 pm).
The other major role of the clergy is at the firesite. The
Archbishop of the Cliffe, accompanied by his fellow clergy, mounts
a scaffold platform, and addresses (or trys to) the assembled crowd
as fireworks explode and whizz about their heads. These are "high-flying
fireworks" which "soar across the heads of the Clergy" - or so
they hope and perhaps pray.
Quite a few fireworks, as "tradition" demands, come out of the
crowd and explode somewhat closer to the clergy than most of us
would like to be to an exploding firework!
In consequence the clergy wear safety glasses, fireproof
clothing under their surplices, and grease their exposed
skin. Today, for their own protection, the clergy are housed in
a transparent screen which surrounds the scaffold platform. The
photographs below were taken some years ago.
Clergy Standing on Scaffold
Platform at the Firesite
Clergy Denounce Popery While
Fireworks Whizz Around
That's one of the clergy
on the right of the photo