The non involvement of the Cliffe in the United Grand Procession
dates back to the 1920s and 30s when the bonfire societies began
to drop their overt anti Catholicism, a move resisted by the Cliffe.
In 1954 the Cliffe were invited to rejoin the Grand Procession,
'provided no banner of religious significance were carried', but
The Cliffe Society puts on the best show of the evening; is jealous
of its 'independence'; is loyal to 'tradition'; is 'true' to the
spirit of Bonfire. The Cliffe, which takes its name from the old
district of the town where it parades its independence, is the
bonfire society which the majority of undergraduates newly arrived
at the Brighton's two universities will find their way to on that
first Bonfire Night in their first term: because its reputation
precedes it. At the Cliffe site hugh effigies of Guy Fawkes and
of his contemporary Pope Paul V explode in a multi coloured firework
display. 'The Archbishop of the Cliffe in Full Canonicals Attended
by his Clergy', as the programme reads, mounts a scaffolding and
addresses the assembled crowds, denouncing the papacy and all its
works. Not that more than a handful of people can hear him above
the noise and din of rocketing fireworks. The archbishop and his
clergy wisely take the precaution of waxing their skins thoroughly,
wearing flameproof clothing under their surplices, and wearing
goggles, as protection from the fireworks that come whizzing all
around them not from the display so much as from the crowd!
But these are not the only 'No Popery' trappings of the Cliffe.
Their evening begins with 'The Bonfire Prayers' when the first
procession stops at Cliffe Corner to recite 'Remember. Remember.
The Fifth of November. The Gunpowder Treason and Plot, etc.', and
in Cliffe High Street a large 'No Popery' banner is suspended.
On the procession itself several banners are carried. Of particular
interest are the ones to William, Prince of Orange, and of the
Lewes Martyrs, the seventeen Protestants burned at the stake in
Lewes during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary. The question