Bonfires and Dragons

Somerset & Dorset Family History Society

Patricia Spencer summaries an event held in the SDFHS Meeting Room.

On Monday afternoon (4th November) Jacqueline Dillion of Harding University gave a fascinating talk on the history of bonfires in Britain for our next-door neighbours, Sherborne Museum,  who use our Meeting Room for some of their events. Jacqueline is currently finishing her PhD thesis on Folklore in the Works of Thomas Hardy and so started her talk with Hardy’s description of a bonfire on Egdon Heath in Return of the Native. She said there is a long tradition of bonfires in Britain, going back to at least the 14th century, though the earliest ones were not in November but in midsummer, around the Feast of St John on 24th June, and it was not until the 16th century that celebratory bonfires moved to November, initially on the 17th to celebrate the accession date of Elizabeth I, then…

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