University of London Society of Change Ringers

Bonfire Night (aka Lewes Bonfire Night) 2011

It all began at not such an unsociable hour on the morning of Saturday 5th November when three of us (Mariko, Peter and Myself) boarded a train at Victoria, later joined by Mr Sibley, heading for the deepest darkest parts of Sussex – to Becca’s house, who had volunteered (been forced) to host us for the event.

On our arrival to Lewes, we had to find a pub. This was for a number of reasons, firstly we had been deprived of alcohol for some time, secondly we had also been deprived of food and thirdly we knew Nick and Jess, who decided to come down a bit earlier, were waiting for us in one of these local establishments – we just weren’t sure exactly where it was! We eventually found the pub after a short walk and Peter and Tom making their minds up on which route to take. A couple of pints later, it had been arranged for us to ring at Southover (10 bells), where we were joined by Peter’s family who had also come to see the bonfire night fun. We were able to ring a good selection of things including Rounds and Call Changes, Grandsire and Stedman Caters and some Surprise Major.

Drinking resumed after this at Becca’s house where other refreshments were also provided and, to add to the effect, we could already hear exploding sounds from bangers being set off by some of the bonfire societies in Lewes. We headed off into town to see the marches just as it was starting to get dark. Fortunately, we managed to get a fairly good spot to see what was going on, which included the effigies being marched through town and past the war memorial. The number of times that we heard the Last Post was uncountable – as were the number of tunes that we knew some words to (be it the UL versions or the actual versions) and we also had a large number of bangers set off close by to us meaning that we couldn’t really hear properly for some time afterwards!

A little later in the evening (after getting lost) we found our way to one of the ‘free’ bonfire sites where you put donations in afterwards. There was a MASSIVE fire and the effigies were ready to be set off. We were again in a reasonable position as we could see some fireworks from several other sites and the view was amazing.

We ended up getting to sleep at about 2 am, after a dither with sleeping arrangements and remembering that we had to get a train at 7.20 back to Victoria in order to ring at Hart Street. This meant getting up at 6am and persuading Becca to get up and make us some breakfast – which was much appreciated! For those that are actually interested, we made it back in time to ring at St Martin’s in the Fields and Hart Street, although we probably all smelt of smoke and were incredibly tired (but didn’t look as bad as certain other people who went to the CY dinner the night before!)

Many thanks to Becca for allowing us to stay at her house and, as far as I am aware, I don’t think we caused any trouble or damage so perhaps another year we might be allowed back?

by Ryan Noble