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Cliffe Bonfire Society

The Bonfire Prayers
The Bonfire Prayers

The Clergy of the Cliffe

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 on the scaffold platform at the firesite
Clergy Standing on Scaffold Platform at the Firesite
The Archbishop addresses the crowd
Clergy Denounce Popery While Fireworks Whizz Around
Fireworks explode around the clergy
That's one of the clergy on the right of the photo

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