Nov 5th – more goulish than 31st Oct.

Foraging for Herbs: A Hedgewitches’ Walky talk 

Herbalist Natasha Richardson leads a walk round Hainault woods, teaching and demonstrating: herb identification; medicinal facts and herbal folklore; and  foraging techniques.  “This afternoon is pagan-oriented, friendly and practical, and will involve engaging intuitively with the plants as well as learning skills and information.   This November walk concentrates on barks and roots; you will come away with a deeper appreciation of how you can find and work with herbs growing all around you.” 

Advance booking required. £8.00 12.45 for 1.00 pm departure from Hainault Tube Station


The Art of Burial, V&A

Discover fascinating rituals and beautiful arts associated with burial in this class. Explore traditions from Britain to Tibet, Iran and China, and examine sculpted Ghanaian coffins and biodegradable ‘ecopods’ featured in the Power of Making exhibition.

V&A Tickets

Gunpowder, Treason, Torture and ‘the Drop’ 

A special seasonal talk looking at the torture and execution of Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators. “Surgeon Richard Pusey will explain the anatomical process of hanging and look at different methods of capital punishment over the centuries using famous examples from history.” And they say suitable for 5 years and up? Maybe it’s a bit dumbed down. Alternatively you could stay at home and watch a jolly film like Pierrepoint.

Free and no booking required but places are limited and will be allotted on a first-come-first-served basis. 

Saturday 5 November, 11.30am and 3.30pm

Further info

Now…for Lewes bonfires. I’ve been a few times and boy is it an experience – probably one of the most memorable and the most unwelcoming. There are a number of bonfire societies who form a procession through the town and each splinters off to culminate in a private bonfire and fireworks display – the Cliffe was the best I’ve ever seen in the flesh. So the various missions in hand are getting there, staying alive and getting tickets. If you look on the main website you’ll be faced with a series of ‘don’t come messages’ – “Roads in the town are closed, meaning that there are no parking facilities. Those using public transport are likely to find that it is very crowded and that they will have to queue for long periods before arriving in Lewes. The journey home could be even more horrendous. This can be an unpleasant experience, particularly when it is cold or raining – which is likely in November.” Brilliant. Makes me want to go even more!

Following the capture of Guy Fawkes on 5th November 1605 the Government introduced ‘An Acte for a publique Thancksgiving to Almighty God everie yeere of the Fifte day of November’ in January 1606 so that the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot should ‘be held in a perpetual Remembrance’ and that the day be ‘a holiday for ever in thankfulness to God for the deliverance and detestation of the Papists’. 

It is not until 1679 before Benjamin Harris, in the Domestick Intelligence, records an isolated account of events in Lewes. He provides a detailed description of an anti-papal procession parading through the streets of Lewes, participants attired in mock religious regalia and carrying a papal effigy. On and off through the years the fires and processions appeared and following riotous events in 1806 the firesite was moved to the safety of Gallows Bank. The celebrations subsequently went into decline leading the press to comment in 1814 that ‘we scarcely remember our streets to have been so free from annoyance of squibs, rockets and other fireworks’.

Enthusiasm for the ‘Fifth’ was rekindled during the 1820’s and from that time the local press has reported the annual celebrations. Fireballs and squibs were thrown and an increasing number of blazing tar barrels being dragged through the streets (which as you’ll see will keep the frostbite at bay). 

The reintroduction of the Catholic hierarchy in 1850 led the town authorities to permit the celebrations to return to the High Street. However this return to the streets of Lewes was marked by a significant change in the celebration’s character and heralded the formation of the Cliffe Bonfire Society. Recognising that riotous proceedings would no longer be tolerated the bonfire boys formed themselves into Bonfire Societies and set about organising military style torchlight processions efficiently marshalled by members resplendent in various titles including Commander-in-Chief, Staff Officer and Inspector General.

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