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Cliffe Bonfire Society

The Names of the Seventeen Lewes Martyrs
The Banner, listing the 17 martyrs,
that hangs across Cliffe High Street

Remembrance Service

In the Society's programme of 1991 the mayor of Lewes, himself a member of the Cliffe, wrote the preface. 'Remember,' he wrote, 'the Bonfire Boys are not performers, they are staging this spectacle to honour a tradition, not just to entertain.' For some, at least, the 'tradition' of 'No Popery' is a living one. Each year on the Sunday before November 5 an Orange remembrance service is held in Lewes. Lewes, indeed, has its very own, if diminutive, Orange Lodge: LOL 398. On this occasion you will see a smattering of Orange sashes and other trappings of Orangeism: the crown on the open Bible, the hymns in the Orange hymn sheet, with lyrics such as 'Shall a cruel Superstition / Undermine the Reformation / And debase a mighty Nation'. The invited speakers to this remembrance service all have pristine evangelical Protestant credentials, such as the Director of the Church Society, an evangelical pressure group within the Church of England, or a preacher from the Protestant Truth Society. Midway through the service the names of the 17 Lewes martyrs are read out from the Martyr's Roll and a minute's silence is observed.

The time frame within which religious ideologies conceive human destinies is an eternal one. The Vatican with its almost 2000 year history thinks strategically in terms of centuries and its die hard Protestant opponents do likewise. Consequently the Reformation and the fear of its undoing is an ever present concern. For the Orangemen and other Protestant fundamentalists of Lewes (a tiny minority of the many involved in the bonfire societies) the issues of the hour are and will continue to be the defence of what remains of the 'Protestant Constitution': (1) the 'national church', that is, the established Church of England and its Protestant Confession, the 39 Articles, and (2) the Protestant succession to the throne. And, through the Cliffe Bonfire Society they retain a toehold in the wider society of contemporary Lewes: one day in 365.

click the thumbnails to see a larger version
Scottish Highlanders
The Cliffe's Emblem Tableau in their 150th year
The Clergy of the Cliffe gather at Cliffe Corner
Scottish Highlanders
Skull & Crossbones
"Clergy" of
the Cliffe

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