Firestarters plan conflagration

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Under the cover of darkness, 50 people proceeded to the Ypres Castle inn on Saturday March 4, for a meeting of their exclusive society. Some were masked, many were in top hats.  Red and black were the colours of the night. Participants recited their own special prayers and after a few hours disappeared into the night, to go back to whence they came. But they will rise again. They are planning an enormous incendiary occasion. Get ready to burn.

Real men wear pussy hats

Yes, that’s right, it was the annual dinner of the Rye Bonfire Society. As usual the Ypres did us proud. Chairman Francis Warren welcomed guests and said grace.  Bonfire prayers followed.

Bonfire Prayers

Remember, remember the Fifth of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes ’twas his intent
To blow up the King and the Parliament
Three score barrels of powder below
Poor old England to overthrow

By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holler boys, holler boys, ring bells ring
Holler boys, holler boys, God Save the King!

A penny loaf to feed the Pope
A farthing o’cheese to choke him
A pint of beer to rinse it down
A faggot of sticks to burn him

Burn him in a tub of tar
Burn him like a blazing star
Burn his body from his head
Then we’ll say old Pope is dead

Hip Hip Hoorah!
Hip Hip Hoorah!
Hip Hip Hoorah!

[Editor’s note: Non-residents and visitors to Rye should not be too alarmed at the above “prayer”. It is a traditional rhyme and while it clearly refers back to the “anti-papery” sentiment following the attempt in the early 17th century to dispatch politicians to another place, today the Bonfire Society is a peaceful organisation  and open to all who wish to help them raise many thousands of pounds each year to be distributed mainly among local good causes, as well as organising the most amazing torchlight parade, bonfire and fireworks display on a weekend close to November 5.]

Photos: Antonia East

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