Hastings Bonfire Boys

From Historical Hastings

Hastings Borough Bonfire Boys are one of the four bonfire societies that are based in Hastings. Formed prior to 1880, they met at the Red Lion, Stone Street and had annual dinners at the Queens Hotel. The society would appear to have gone into decline during the early 20th Century, although involved with the Hastings Carnival for a short period, reforming again as the Hastings Bonfire Boys in 1945 then waning again, finally reforming in 1995.

The America Ground Declaration

Hastings Borough Bonfire Society has had a tradition of making a declaration across The America Ground[1] since its reformation in 1995, the area covered by Harold Place, Robertson Terrace, Carlisle Parade, White Rock, Robertson Street, Trinity Street, and Claremont, this area to the West of the Priory Stream was originally outside the Hastings Borough boundary and settled by squatters who declared themselves independent of Hastings.

The declaration is read yearly when the bonfire procession reaches the site of the Albert Memorial. The Town Crier reads the declaration in front of assembled dignitaries, visitors from the Twin Towns and other VIPs. The wording of the declaration was created with the assistance of local historian Dennis Collins and recalls the history of the America Ground.[1]

Following the reading of the declaration, the America Ground Banner has its lance work ignited and the procession recommences along Robertson Street[1]

The Declaration

The Hastings Borough Bonfire Society will now process onto the America GROUND which was formerly SEA.

William the Conqueror SAILED in where we MARCH today.
The prosperous HARBOUR of the CINQUE PORT OF HASTINGS Was here until storms destroyed it ELEVEN HUNDRED YEARS AGO.
By two hundred years ago The SEA had become LAND and merchants and people built Warehouses, Ropewalks and homes on it, AND THEY PROSPERED
The corporation of Hastings had NO JURISDICTION HERE, but tried to enforce their rule.
The people RIOTED And raised the Stars and Stripes of THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in DEFIANCE
The Borough RETREATED The Americans stayed independent until the Kings Commissioners Claimed the ground for the CROWN.
The Stars and Stripes with the Borough arms added was PRESENTED to the Corporation of Hastings as A FRIENDLY GESTURE by the people of THE AMERICA GROUND in the LAST YEARS of their occupation.
It SYMBOLISES that spirit of enterprise and INDEPENENCE determination and GOODWILL which characterises the people of The AMERICA GROUND TO THIS DAY

We DECLARE our passage through the TERRITORY of the AMERICA GROUND.


  1. a b c d History of Bonfire, accessdate: 2 February 2020