The flame procession
November 6, 2012 in Outdoors
Lewes in East Sussex is aflame with its annual Bonfire Night celebrations.
Tens of thousands lined the streets in the small market town to watch the fiery procession, which traces its roots to the 16th century reign of Mary I and the Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot of 1605.
It is just one of many November 5 gatherings up and down the country, with the night sky illuminated by colourful pyrotechnics.
While some will strike lucky with the weather, others won’t be so fortunate as their fireworks displays are spoilt by torrential rain. Temperatures are expected to plummet close to freezing, making this the coldest Bonfire Night in 14 years.
The procession, organised annually by six local societies, traces its roots to the 16th century and marks a tumultuous time in English history.
A key part of the parade is seventeen flaming crosses, one for each of the Protestant martyrs burnt at the stake in the town between 1555 and 1557 as part of the Marian Prosecutions.
The purge was initiated by the Roman Catholic monarch Queen Mary, who reigned between 1553 and 1558, and passed strict anti-Protestant legislation against anyone guilty of heresy against the Pope.
At least three hundred were martyred in just five years – many meeting a fiery end on the stake and others hung, drawn and quartered.
It is just a part of a number of parades and displays of pyrotechnics in the town – which can attract as many as 80,000 despite the place only having a population of 16,000.
An effigy of Guy Fawkes, who died in 1606 a year after an unsuccessful plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament with Gunpowder.
The Lewes event has previously courted controversy – in 2001, an effigy of Osama Bin Laden attracted national attention, as did the 2003 choice of a gypsy caravan.
History lesson: The Lewes Bonfire Night celebrations mark, in part, the Marian Persecutions of 1555-1557, a purge of Protestant religious reformers during the reign of Roman Catholic monarch Mary I. Heresy against the Catholic faith was punishable by death, with some burnt at the stake, as in Lewes, and other hung, drawn and quartered
While the flames remained alight in Lewes, others in the country saw their Bonfire Night pyrotechnics washed out by heavy rain.
A number of fireworks displays were cancelled after heavy deluges of rain caused flash flooding in Dorset, Devon, Somerset and Wiltshire the worst affected.
It follows the cancellation of a number of large displays over the weekend, including one in Newham, East London and in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
In all, the Environment Agency issued seven flood warning in England and Wales on Monday morning, covering areas of the South-West, South-East, East Anglia, the Midlands and Wales.There were also 53 flood alerts in operation .
In Carmarthenshire, nine adults and six children had to be rescued from a caravan park as flood waters rose on Sunday evening. The Mid and West Wales fire and rescue service used a boat as part of their operation at the Pendine Caravan Park.
Flaming! Two of the marchers taking part in the annual Bonfire Night celebrations in Lewes, the county town of East Sussex, this evening. Dressed in vivid, blood-red costumes and brandishing burning torches, they are participating in an event which can trace its origins to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and the burning of 17 martyrs at the stake in the town in the period 1555-1557