The original costumes were designed to hide the identities of the marchers from the police and magistrate. One early record shows the Seaford Bonfire Boys disguising themselves as North American Indians. The costumes then became more elaborate and included Zulu warriors, emperors, kings, statesmen, bandits, clowns, buffoons, devils and fools! Some even dressed as Guy Fawkes!
Costumes became more varied and fascinating over the years and in the late 1800’s included Cavaliers of all periods, Court ladies, Red Riding Hood, Roman Centurions, Yeomen of the Guard, Gallants of Good Queen Bess, fat women, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Sailors to name but a few. Although there were many references to ladies costumes it is believed that women did not take part, but that it was actually men in drag.
The main costume was predominantly military. There were reports of “helmets, shakos and bearskins, red tunics and the ‘Inkerman Brigade' from the first Crimean War".