Amen to this

Canines and cassocks do mix. Clergy from all the Lewes Bonfire Societies gathered to sip port and pontif-icate about the Fifth at the Priory Ruins before processing to The King’s Head for the Bishops’ Breakfast – hosted this year by our Archbishop, the lovely Matt.

Our Cluniac Monks took our Bell Cart out for the first time since 2019; and much avocado on toast was consumed; alongside this masterpiece of a cake, made specially for the occasion by our very own Ian Cumming and possibly without many people realising he is a Great British Bake-Off finalist, no less!!

Photos also by Ian.


Final Badge Night 2021

Our final (and often very busy) Badge Night is on Thursday (Nov 4), 7pm-9pm, at our HQ The King’s Head. Even if you are all sorted, it’s a great event and the spirit of Bonfire (not to mention, a number of spirits of the alcoholic variety) abound.

We’ve restocked our merchandise and clothing stalls so all those last-minute purchases can be made (cash only) and this is your last chance to renew your membership online in advance by following this link. If you haven’t done so already, please bring your red plastic SBS Membership Card(s) with you to our final Badge Night as we need to update them all with a 2021 sticker.

All Southover Bonfire Society members need both your 2021 updated Membership Card and 2021 Badge with you in order to process on Friday (Nov 5). Marshals are checking and you will be asked to leave the procession if you don’t have both of these with you. You will also be denied access to the fire site and fireworks. Any queries, please contact

Having a cracking night out. Photo courtesy of Ian Cumming 2019

Our A-Z of Bonfire

A is for Advance!! Southover’s clarion call.

B is for Bonfire! What else would it stand for? Oh, and Buccaneers, our 2nd Pioneers.

C is for cake (wot fireworks come from, innit).

D is for discipline – epitomised by the superb ranks of three in which our members process. (Well, we try!)

E is for excitement. It’s year round and not just reserved for the Fifth.

F is for fireworks; the Fifth List – which Emma cracks her whip to complete; and our Firesite Force led by Captain Jim.

G is for gorgeous, lovely, members of Southover Bonfire Society (now pay your subscriptions)

H is for hessian – our Waitrose-quality version is woven by elves and unicorns (amazing what they can do with their horns). It’s also for Hedge Fund – local rumour is that most SBS-ers work in finance. Well, if we did, we wouldn’t have to run so many fabulous fund raising events!

I is for ideas, and plenty of them, so that our Tab Team and our Small Builds Team can create amazing masterpieces. Which we then blow up on the night. (Doh)

J is for jaunts. We have a few of these in our Society. Some call them outmeetings and they’re a very special part of the Bonfire experience.

K is for kerosene – our Bonfire version of Chanel No 5 – in which we lovingly dip our 3,500 torches every year. Dip, dip hooray to Nick the Knife and his gang.

L is for love, the love we have for Bonfire. It’s a smokin’ hot way to get some exercise.

M is for merchandise – lots of lovely stock with all sorts of goodies and managed superbly by our Captain of Merch Shireen. Also for those naughty monks – the Cluniac priory ones of Lewes and our 1st Pioneers.

N is for nuns – we’ve introduced Nun of the Above and Nun Such plus their sisters to bring holy disorder to our Cluniac ranks.

O is for ‘Oh I can’t believe you actually make your own torches and don’t rent them from East Sussex County Council for the night’. (Yes, someone did say that in 2011!)

P is for pyro mania – the energy fizzing through the crew bringing our aerial display spectacularly to life. Nuff said!

Q is for Quartermaster – our lovely Bill ‘don’t mess with my bits and bobs in the stores’ Barber.

R is for rum – elixir of the gods and a fab ingredient in the hip flasks of Lewes.

S is for smugglers – the stripey crew that every Bonfire Society has and loves. Truly loves. Truly…loves.

T is for torchmaking – but these aren’t just any torches, they’re SBS torches, notched and whipped up in hand cut hessian, with bespoke wire twisting, then dipped in magical kero so they burn, baby, burn. Thanks to all the SBS-ers who turn up on Sundays to join the Torchmaking Tornados.

U is for U, the public, who buy our Bonfire programme and fire site tickets and help us keep it all alight.

V is for volunteers – without whom we wouldn’t be able to thrive as a Society. It’s also for vajazelling – a wonderful technique used to overly decorate one’s costume. (Allegedly)

W is for Wilson, our Society mascot, a kero-loving, torch-throwing canine, whose ‘Ruff Guide to Bonfire’ is a sell-out on Amazon.

X is what marks the spot where we have our bonfire in the Convent Field.

Y is for ‘Y not?’ A good response to any new member who wonders if they should join one Pioneer group or all of them.

Z is for the ZZZZs we partake of. But only once the Fifth is over!


2nd Badge Night and hell of a way to spend the evening

Be afraid, our 2nd Badge Night is on Halloween, this Sunday (October 31), 6pm-8pm, at our HQ The King’s Head, coinciding spooktacularly with some other festival.

So why not do both? So all you Southover Bonfire Society members, go out on your trick or treating, then pop on down for some Bonfire Banter, to pick up your Badge, buy some lovely merchandise from Shireen (new fleeces, masks and lots more) and upgrade your costume. If anyone still wants to clothes swap, donate or sell, please contact Fiona on 07775 654744. It’s cash only for merch and costume.

(PS: calling all SBS captains, lieutenants, marshals, you are meeting at The King’s Head from 4.30pm-5.30pm with our Commander in Chief).

We would also seriously suggest you do a lateral flow test before you turn up and definitely don’t come along if you’ve got Covid or anything cold-like.

Don’t forget you do need to have renewed your membership online in advance of Badge Nights. To renew your membership, follow this link:

Please also remember to bring your red plastic SBS Membership Card(s) with you to Badge Nights as we need to update them all with a 2021 sticker.

You need both your 2021 updated Membership Card and 2021 Badge with you in order to process on November 5. Marshals are checking and you will be asked to leave the procession if you don’t have both of these with you.

You will also be denied access to the firesite and fireworks. Any queries, please contact


Bishops do brekkie

Pope Clement VI famously said that his papal predecessors “did not know how to be pope,” and hosted lavish meals where only he was allowed to eat with a knife, to safeguard against violence breaking out.

Happily, and much, much, much further down the clerical food chain, our wonderful SBS Archbishop Matt is playing holy host to the Bonfire Societies’ Bishops’ Breakfast next Thursday (November 4), and there will be cutlery available too.

This traditional gathering – usually very merry thanks to plenty of Harveys with their Eggs Benedict (it is Lewes after all) – will take place at our HQ The King’s Head, with pre sipping-of-Port action in the Priory Ruins.

Panic not if you see a lot of peeps in cassocks holding croziers and processing around the Shire pontif-icating that day. Saints preserve us and all that. (Whether they will be able to spread Saints Preserve on their croissants remains to be seen, particularly after a few pints). But miracles can happen, apparently.

Even in Lewes.

Photo courtesy of Ian Cumming.


Light up the skies

It’s been a long gap since we last had the privilege of watching our talented Pyro Team’s display.

Here’s a flavour of our show in 2019. Footage courtesy of Max Broughton.

Our firesite tickets at £10 each are on sale at the Tourist Information Office, The Swan, The Kings Head and St Pancras Stores.


Grab your firesite tickets

Our firesite tickets, priced at £10 each, are on sale at outlets across Lewes. Snap yours up from the Tourist Information Centre, The King’s Head, The Swan, and St Pancras Stores so you can see our firework display at the Convent Field on November 5.

You can also pick up our programme at the same venues which includes our procession routes for Bonfire Night.

If you are a paid up member of SBS, you get free access to the firesite on the night as long as you have your up to date Membership Card and 2021 Badge with you.


Call for martyrs’ cross carriers and marshals

If you’re an SBS member and a buccaneer, can you carry one of the martyrs’ crosses in our procession on the Fifth?

The crosses are very light and we have special holders so anyone can manage one. It’s a very moving part of our procession as the crosses commemorate the martyrs who were burnt at the stake outside the Old Star Inn where the War Memorial stands today.

We are also looking for a few more marshals to keep our pirate ranks safe and sound. If you can help, please email

This request is for current SBS members only.


Join the Firesite Force

We are looking for more Southover Bonfire Society members to join the SBS Firesite Force!

Can you help us get our tip top Convent Field firesite ready for the Fifth or help with the tidy up afterwards, or any bits in between? We really do need volunteers to lend a hand and join the Firesite Team between November 2 and November 7.

We will meet at the Mountfield Road car park at 9am on volunteer days. Gloves and training will be provided. You will need to register at the start of each day and we will be doing a quick induction for everybody to the site and taking emergency contact details etc. There will be members of the Firesite Team on hand to help out on each day to answer and assist you.They will be wearing red jumpers or fleeces with SBS Firesite Team written on them.

Please contact Jim Painter, Firesite Captain, at with your details and let him know which days you would be able to help out.

Here’s the jobs:

Tuesday November 2
Fence erecting around the pyro site; oversee delivery of the bonfire sand; and set up a site office

Wednesday November 3
Set up fencing, assist with building the bonfire

Thursday November 4
More fence erecting round the field, and more bonfire building!

Friday November 5
People to move fencing; place crosses on the field; build the bonfire; put up site effigies and set up lighting

Saturday November 6
Take down fencing at the fire site and pyro site; collect up litter (especially good for children – lovely exercise!); clear the bonfire patch

Sunday November 7
People to help check the field for litter and make sure hire equipment is in the right place for collection.

Thanks in advance for any assistance that you can offer!