When Seaford Bonfire Society re-formed in December 2010 a committee was formed and discussions took place on the costumes that would mean something to Seaford.
Being a coastal town Seaford has a long association with smuggling and piracy so for our first pioneers (leaders of the procession) pirates seemed the obvious choice. They can be as plain or flamboyant as the wearer wishes with characters from Captain Pugwash to Captain Jack Sparrow for inspiration.
Second choice was the Saxon as Alfred the Great had a palace at nearby Westdean. The name Seaford is derived from the Anglo Saxon ‘Sae forde’’ meaning a place where you can cross the sea or the river. The choice of costume is again varied with lovely long dresses for the women and lots of dangerous looking weaponry for guys.
Locals, known as ‘Wreckers’, were responsible for the sinking and looting of many a ship when smuggling was at its peak. They wore knee length breeches, stockings, loose shirts, waistcoats and bandanas. Their faces would have been blacked to help them hide from the authorities. These characters had to be included in our procession.
Lastly we couldn’t escape the ‘bonfire smuggler’ that history named after the shag bird that frequents our shores hence ‘The Seaford Shags’.
The hooped jumpers, white trousers, topped with a beanie type woollen hat have become part of bonfire throughout Sussex although there is no history to back this costume. The white trousers would have been difficult to hide at night time while looting the wrecks or moving contraband inland. After looking at all the other societies we chose grey and purple hoops so we would stand out from the rest.