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Cliffe Bonfire Society

Guy Fawkes Effigy on cart
Guy Fawkes Effigy

Loyal To Tradition

The non involvement of the Cliffe in the United Grand Procession dates back to the 1920s and 30s when the bonfire societies began to drop their overt anti Catholicism, a move resisted by the Cliffe. In 1954 the Cliffe were invited to rejoin the Grand Procession, 'provided no banner of religious significance were carried', but they refused.

The Cliffe Society puts on the best show of the evening; is jealous of its 'independence'; is loyal to 'tradition'; is 'true' to the spirit of Bonfire. The Cliffe, which takes its name from the old district of the town where it parades its independence, is the bonfire society which the majority of undergraduates newly arrived at the Brighton's two universities will find their way to on that first Bonfire Night in their first term: because its reputation precedes it. At the Cliffe site hugh effigies of Guy Fawkes and of his contemporary Pope Paul V explode in a multi coloured firework display. 'The Archbishop of the Cliffe in Full Canonicals Attended by his Clergy', as the programme reads, mounts a scaffolding and addresses the assembled crowds, denouncing the papacy and all its works. Not that more than a handful of people can hear him above the noise and din of rocketing fireworks. The archbishop and his clergy wisely take the precaution of waxing their skins thoroughly, wearing flameproof clothing under their surplices, and wearing goggles, as protection from the fireworks that come whizzing all around them not from the display so much as from the crowd!

But these are not the only 'No Popery' trappings of the Cliffe. Their evening begins with 'The Bonfire Prayers' when the first procession stops at Cliffe Corner to recite 'Remember. Remember. The Fifth of November. The Gunpowder Treason and Plot, etc.', and in Cliffe High Street a large 'No Popery' banner is suspended. On the procession itself several banners are carried. Of particular interest are the ones to William, Prince of Orange, and of the Lewes Martyrs, the seventeen Protestants burned at the stake in Lewes during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary. The question is: why?

click thumbnails to see a larger version
Guy Fawkes Being Pulled Through The Streets
There is always a strong contingent of Fearsome Vikings
Procession with Flaming Crosses
Guy Fawkes
Fearsome Vikings
with Flaming Crosses

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