Smugglers are the visual identity of Bonfire Societies in their coloured striped Guernseys, and in our red and black we’re immediately identified as Southover. We are its visible core and have a huge responsibility to uphold the Society’s image; its position in the town and the tradition of Lewes Bonfire.


So, why do we wear striped Guernseys, and why is Southover red and black?

Historically, the Bonfire Boys and Belles of old would wear a striped Guernsey, white trousers, black boots, and a mask of charcoal blacked around their eyes. They were trying to avoid identification by the authorities that were attempting to stop the Lewes celebrations on the Fifth. Authorities lost this one!

From the 1860’s onwards the anonymity of Guernsey’s and masks gave way to an increasing variety of outfits and costumes. New Societies were conceived along with their smugglers colours and their pioneers. Our pioneers are Monks and Buccaneers.

Southover smugglers used to be orange and black, but when we reformed in 2005 we took inspiration from the mighty Rooks – our local, and very supportive football club, and adopted red and black as our colours (ours are almost the same as another local bonfire society – Newick, but theirs are black and red).

Smuggler costume