Time for Bonfire 
to come home

So Battle Bonfire has fallen foul of the autumn weather - or rather a bonfire tradition stretching back for more than 400 years has fallen foul of an English Heritage battle field which was churned up by horses and vehicles.

Years ago, when the bonfire burned in its rightful place on the Abbey Green this simply would not have happened.

An increasingly litigious society and an authority who were, at the time, intent on re-branding Battle Bonfire as a fun and friendly family event rather than what it is - a Sussex tradition - saw the bonfire being moved to a new fire-site on the battle field.

There are still those who maintain that the Boyes capitulated to pressure from the authorities a little too easily.

Others have claimed that increasing crowd numbers has made it impossible to return to the Abbey Green. We disagree - Battle Bonfire has drawn much bigger crowds in the past when it was still held in the centre of town and those events passed without major incident.

The Battle Observer remembers the then town police inspector John Harmer issuing press statements that Battle Bonfire was not a family event and was unsuitable for small children and those of a nervous disposition. His message was clear - this is a Sussex tradition and you come here at your own risk.

He pointed out that were plenty of other smaller fireworks displays in the area that were more suited to family entertainment.

Of course bonfire events should be well organised and as safe as possible - no-one wants to see anybody get hurt, but they have traditionally had an edge to them.

Now is the time to show some real fire, re-evoke the spirit of the Battle Rouser and get the bonfire back on the Abbey Green where it has always belonged.

STILL with bonfire it is a real shame that a solution could not be found to allow Winchelsea’s bonfire celebrations to go ahead on November 3.

We understand the farmer’s concerns but really, this is one of the biggest and most anticipated nights of the year in Winchelsea, with a history of more than a decade and we are talking about a small patch of grass which will grow back after the bonfire. The Bonfire Boyes would have done their usual meticulous job of cleaning up after the event.

Of course fields and the environment are important - but so is our Sussex heritage and cultural traditions.

We really can’t see what harm this event would have caused.

TEN years after his death Spike Milligan is still managing to cause a stir.

The unpredictable comic genius and much loved Rye area resident has been at the centre of a mystery and controversy as to the absence of the famous head stone that marks his resting place at St Thomas’s Churchyard in Winchelsea. It is good to see that this small, but iconic local landmark is back in place.