What happening to Bonfire Night in Winchelsea?
There were no events in 2011 and 2012. In 2011, we cancelled because of a very poor weather forecast (why did we believe weather men?). But in 2012, we were refused access to Rookery Field, in which we have held the bonfire since 1999, by the National Trust's tenant farmer. We do not know why. It was suggested that Natural England objected (the farm has a Higher Level Stewardship agreement with Natural England) but Natural England have denied this. We have not been able to gain a meeting with the farmer. The site of the bonfire in Rookery Field is the only site in Winchelsea for which we can get the necessary Scheduled Ancient Monument consent from English Heritage.
The Bonfire Boyes and the commemoration of the Great War
On the War Memorial in Winchelsea, there are 10 names from the First World War. It is recorded that they died between 24 January 1915 and 5 September 1918. The Bonfire Boyes have commissioned a bugler to play the Last Post at the War Memorial at sunset on the centenary of each of these dates. We are inviting members of their families to lay wreathes at the same time.
Join the Bonfire Boyes
The Bonfire Boyes have over 100 members and is one of the biggest societies in Winchelsea. Some members are more active than others but all want to show their support for the bonfire tradition in the town and all the other events organised by the Bonfire Boyes. The annual subscription is just £1. To join, call 224446.
Miranda Sykes and Rex Preston in concert --- Friday 9 May 2014
Mrs Haddock's Sea Food Evening --- Saturday 5 July 2014
- Rain Or Shine Theatre company outdoor performance of Treasure Island --- Saturday 9 August 2014
- Hog Roast --- Saturday 24 August 2014
- War Horse: readings by Michael Morpurgo accompanied by John Tam --- Saturday 18 October 2014
- Winchelsea Mummers --- Sunday 4 January 2015
We need lots of volunteers to build the bonfire, carry torches, dress up and marshall the procession. Bonfire building starts at Rookery Field about 10:00am on the morning of Bonfire Night. We hold our AGM at lunchtime by the bonfire. Wear old clothes and wellies, and bring gardening or working gloves, if you have them.
Volunteers are even more welcome to help clear up on the day after Bonfire Night. We start at about 10:00am.
Paying for Bonfire Night
The Bonfire Boyes need about £3,000 to pay for fireworks, insurance and other expenses (see our latest annual accounts). This money comes from a collection held on Bonfire Night and several fund-raising events during the year: Curry Night in February/March, Asparagus Evening in May or Sea Food Evening in June/July, the Hog Roast in July/August, outdoor Shakespeare in August, a carol concert accompanied by Sussex Brass in December and sometimes a Christmas play in December/January. We also stage a number of folk concerts throughout the year. We occasionally receive grants for equipment (see below).
Organising Bonfire Night
An awful lot of hard work goes into organising Bonfire Night. Notifications have to be given to the Ambulance Service, English Heritage, Natural England, the Environmental Health Department of Rother District Council, the Fire and Rescue Service and various units of Sussex Police. A written risk assessment and proof of insurance cover has to be provided to some agencies.
Great care is taken to ensure the safety of participants and spectators. The procession and bonfire are well marshalled, and the firework display is managed by professionals, who are separately insured, produce their own risk assessment, ensure that safe distances (as specified in DTI guidance
) are placed between the audience and the firework display, and that debris falls away from the village. We also have a child protection policy
. Residents are reminded to expect noise in advance of the event.
Thank you for grants
The Bonfire Boyes have been lucky enough to secure grants from generous donors for equipment, including drums. We should like to thank the O2 Community Foundation and the Sussex Community Foundation.