Shops boarded up as Lewes prepares for Bonfire Night

Shops were boarded up as a quaint Sussex town prepared for one of the most famous annual Bonfire Night celebrations in the county.

The streets of Lewes will be alight with fire and celebration and, of course, burning effigies.

Pavements along the narrow thoroughfares through the historic East Sussex town are packed every year with onlookers eager to catch a glimpse of the centuries-old traditions.

By the time the parades get under way thousands of people are expected to pack the streets of Lewes.

Bonfire night 2019
Shops are boarded up in Lewes (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Heavy traffic and rail restrictions are being enforced in an effort to limit overcrowding, and members of the public have been advised to “stay local” for Bonfire Night.

Among the centrepieces of the annual festival are the controversial effigies, which often take the form of well-known politicians and celebrities.

In 2018 a giant portrayal of Boris Johnson holding an axe and Theresa May’s severed head was set on fire, to the delight of the chanting crowds.

Dubbed the UK’s bonfire capital, the town’s seven bonfire societies are known for producing controversial tableaux of public figures which are paraded by torchlight before being set on fire.

Ahead of the event, Sussex Police Superintendent Howard Hodges said: “Public safety is our priority, and that’s why we’re urging everyone to stay local this bonfire night.

Bonfire night 2019
Participants arrive for bonfire night (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“Whilst recognising the tradition of Lewes Bonfire night, it is important the event held – and those attending – are kept safe.”

The event not only marks the tale of Guy Fawkes and the uncovering of the Gunpowder Plot on November 5 1605, but also commemorates the burning of 17 Protestant martyrs in the town’s High Street in the 16th century.

To mark their demise, 17 burning crosses are traditionally carried through the town, and a wreath-laying ceremony takes place at the war memorial.

A flaming tar barrel is also thrown into the nearby River Ouse, said to symbolise the throwing of magistrates into the water after they read the riot act to bonfire boys in 1847.

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