Medieval village fills with flaming torches for a very fiery night out

Nusrat Ghani
BURNING WITH JOY: Celebrating the return of the Mayfield Carnival. Photo: © Simon Heaton

FLAMING FUN: Cross burning has been a tradition in the area since the Reformation. Photo: © Caroline Pooley


The High Street was packed as six bands also played, and the event – which raises funds for local good causes – culminated in a bonfire and fireworks on the Court Meadow recreation ground.

Resident Sue Barnes said: “I have lived in Mayfield all my life, and due to COVID-19 this Carnival was very special and much needed as a morale booster.

“This was one of the largest I remember. The amazing firework display finale was better than London on New Year’s Eve. Sussex at its best!”

Caroline Pooley, who was among those capturing it all on camera, added: “It was an absolutely fantastic evening, the atmosphere was electric, and it was lovely to see so many people out enjoying a great tradition.

“Well done Mayfield Bonfire Society you did the village proud!”


Photo: © Simon Heaton


The village’s Jonathan Barnes agreed: “Well done Mayfield, a much awaited, fantastic Carnival and what a firework display.”

Attendee Anne Bentley wrote on Facebook: “What a great night – just hope that this heralds the end of the restrictions and a return to normal. Brilliant that such a small village can stage such a mega event.”


Photo: © Simon Heaton


The evening began at 6.45pm with a wreath-laying ceremony at the War Memorial, followed by a series of mile-long processions through the village, then the bonfire and fireworks. The revelries carried on until 11pm.


Photo: © Caroline Pooley


Photo: © Tom Bowers


Organised by the Mayfield Bonfire Society, the event was the first and largest in the local bonfire season, with the longest procession outside of Lewes. More than 800 people took part in the procession alone.


Photo: © Jonathan Barnes


The society’s Catherine Hawley said: “Mayfield Bonfire Society were delighted to mark the return of carnival season and welcome our fellow bonfire societies to help us host such a spectacular procession.

“It takes a huge team effort to put on the procession, which has been particularly important this year to bring people together, and to share some joy throughout the village.

“We were also pleased to be raising funds for local charities MAYFACS [Mayfield & Five Ashes Community Services] and Mayfield Pre-school, who have supported the village throughout these difficult times.”


MAKING 5,000 TORCHES: A huge task for the village volunteers. Photo: © Mayfield Bonfire Society


Months of preparations included workshops to make 5,000 torches, and 25 visiting bonfire societies also joined in on the night as many similar events were cancelled both last year and this due to the pandemic.


Photo: © Jools Rae


Visit the society website to find out more about its history and the significance of the burning crosses:


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