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1890: Blazing tar barrels in the High Street

Updated: Dec 5, 2023


A burning tar barrel lights up the street in Ottery St Mary up

Guy Fawkes Day was not by  any means forgotten, the Cuckfield Bonfire Society carrying out a very successful demonstration. The officers  were Mr. G. Elliott Secretary: Mr. Landers Commander-in-Chief, his lieutenants being Messrs. F. Field and H.  Knight. Mr. N. King was captain of tar-barrels and Mr.  T. Tester captain of the torches.


Shortly after seven the  first procession was formed at the Rose and Crown.  Headed by the Burgess Hill Fire Brigade and the Cuckfield Town Band the processionists, completely disguised in the most fanciful of costumes, carrying torches and  accompanied by blazing tar barrels paraded the streets.  returning afterwards to the headquarters to prepare for the grand procession which started from The Rose and Crown shortly after nine.  


The masqueraders now numbered in full force, and the costumes were of the  most varied character - policemen, soldiers and sailors  Highlanders, Zulus, His Satanic Majesty, King Charles, and Henry VIII.'s and other monarchs by the score, Ally Slopers, old women, and young women too, Foresters, highwaymen, and many others.  


A car contained Stanley (Mr. G. Elliott) and Emin Pasha (Mr. Lelligo), and a  number of African followers.The car was decorated to  represent a jungle scene. At the rear were several blazing tar-barrels The procession marched to the King's Head  Hotel and the White Hart Inn, and after a brief rest,  retraced its way back to the Rose and Crown. In a meadow close by the headquarters a bonfire was lit, and amid general rejoicing, much cheering, and a display of fireworks, Guy Fawkes, and the Pope were consigned to the flames.


Sussex Agricultural Express, 7 November 1890


Photo: Sandhill Street and a burning tar barrel lights up the street in Ottery St Mary up by the barrels of tar. This man is holding up the barrel for all to see. Wikimedia public domain image.


Contributed by Malcolm Davison.


Visit Cuckfield Museum, follow the link for details https://cuckfieldmuseum.org.

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