Guy Fawkes is said to have sourced his gunpowder from the Battle powder mills and the Battle Bonfire Boyes, one of the world’s oldest membership societies, are famous for the excellence of their celebration.
As the procession began to form up in the usual place at the top of the town it seemed the number of societies represented were fewer and the rear of the procession dominated by drumming groups. This was perhaps due to the clash of dates with Lewes who didn’t wish to go ahead with their anti popery celebrations on November 5, as usual, because it was a Sunday.
Rye Bonfire Society was well represented, given we are quality not quantity and the Ryebellion drummers looked splendid in their black and red uniforms. The drumming tunes were very good and showed a distinct maturity in range and production given that Ryebellion is a relatively new group. The performers have obviously been rehearsing steadily for their own celebration in Rye on November 11.
We marched with our flaming torches all the way down to the turn at Powdermill Lane then back up to the roundabout with the splendid new sculpture. The crowds were huge, easily 20,000, spread all along High Street and very dense around the Abbey Green. When the procession turned for the last march down to Abbey Green it became very exciting and anticipation was almost tangible.
The effigy this year was Kim Jong Un with a nuclear cloud exploding from his head. The likeness was incredible. As the procession reached Abbey Green a mass of Chinese crackers were set off and the noise and smoke and spectacle of bonfire was beautifully amplified against spectacular setting of Battle Abbey. The traditional bonfire made of faggots piled against a pole add a poignancy to the event as it emulates the type of bonfire used for ritual burnings at the time of the Gunpowder Plot. The excellent firework display was fired from the fields behind the Pilgrims Rest. Depending on where you were standing it might not have been easy to appreciate all the wonderful display but this would have been more than compensated for by the view of the fantastic array of explosives around the entrance to Battle abbey. It was an excellent evening with everyone going home very happy.
Photos: Mags Ivatts