Guy Fawkes and the history of Fireworks Night.
So it is nearly time again for Fireworks night which is celebrated on November 5th, Guy Fawkes Night. What do you know about the history of Guy Fawkes and Fireworks Night, where fireworks are let off and traditionally the effigy of Guy Fawkes is burned on bonfires to recognise his part in “The Gunpowder Plot” in 1605. Did you know that Guy Fawkes didn’t lead or instigate the plot to kill James I even though he is held as one of our most notorious villains in over 400 years!.
The plan was to kill King James I by blowing up the House of Lords, thus restoring Protestant England to Catholicism ending their persecution. It was under the leadership of Robert Catesby, who worked with Guy Fawkes and 3 other plotters to strike on November 5th. By killing the King they would put James’ daughter, Elizabeth, on the throne which would return Britain to the Catholic faith.
The Downfall of the Plot and Guy Fawkes
“Remember, remember, the 5th of November; Gunpowder, treason and plot; I see no reason why gunpowder, treason; should ever be forgot.”
The downfall to the Gunpowder plot lay with an anonymous letter that was sent to the brother-in-law of one of the plotters, Lord Monteagle, warning against attending parliament on the 5th. This letter was then passed to Robert Cecil who waited before taking action resulting in the plotters having no idea their plan was in danger of failing.
Cecil ordered searches of the whole of the Houses of Parliament on the 4 November where Guy Fawkes was arrested. He went on to endure 2 days of torture in the Tower of London before confessing everything which gave the remaining plotters time to escape.
The remaining plotters made a last stand at Holbeche House in Staffordshire where most died in a shoot-out with the king’s men, including Catesby. The few survivors were taken to London for their trial before the 8 remaining, including Guy Fawkes, were executed.
Although religious differences between Protestants and Catholics are largely forgotten now, the tradition of celebrating the deliverance of James I and the execution of his plotters lives on. Guy Fawkes is the ceremonial “Guy” that gets burned on top of a bonfire and ensures the plot endures in national memory.
This tradition of bonfires and fireworks in my opinion seems to be getting bigger and better each year with local areas to whole countries competing in firework championships around the world. Did you know for example that in Blackpool they host the world firework championships each year!
If you don’t mind an hours drive and you are wanting to see some of the best shows when staying at The Lansdown Grove Hotel in Bath, or The Grand Atlantic Hotel in Weston-Super-Mare head to Cooper’s Field in Cardiff for one of the largest displays in the UK
If you are staying at The Charlecote Pheasant Hotel near Stratford on Avon, head to at Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire, an hour’s drive away. They are hosting a 3 night celebration to an enormous display starting on the 2nd November. Get there early to see and dramatic battle between “Vikings” before the huge fireworks show!
Remember if you are going to watch any displays to stay safe and wrap up warm. If there are any memorable displays you have seen or would recommend, it would be great to read your comments below.