‘Remember remember the 5th of November’. The famous saying reminds us of the failed attempt on parliament and King James the 1st's life back in 1605. Guy Fawkes night or "Bonfire night" as it is commonly known, all started with the capture of Guy Fawkes who was part of a sinister gunpowder plot. Guy Fawkes was arrested whilst guarding the explosives that had been placed under the House of Lords building. The people of London celebrated King James the 1st's survival by lighting bonfires around London.
The story of this gunpowder plot goes even further with the English Catholic group led by Robert Catesby plotting to blow up the house of lords at the State Opening of England’s Parliament. This event is seen as the prelude to the popular revolt in the Midlands where the group attempted to instate the Kings 9 year old daughter – Princess Elisabeth – as the catholic head of state. There were thirteen plotters including "Robert Catesby" and the infamous "Guy Fawkes". Fawkes was left guarding the gunpowder as he had 10 years of military experience from fighting in the Spanish Netherlands. Little did he know however that an anonymous letter had been sent to 4th Baron "Monteagle" and at midnight on the 4th November a search was undertaken at the house of lords where Guy Fawkes was found along with 36 barrels of gunpowder. Most of the plotters fled London when they found out they had been discovered. They gathered support on their way and at Holbeche House stood and fought for their lives. Robert Casesby was one of the men shot and killed during this battle. The remaining plotters were put on trial on the 27th January 1606 with eight of the survivors eventually being hung, drawn and quartered.
Some of the more traditional customs for celebrating Guy Fakwes night are lighting bonfires like they did in London back in the 1600's. It is also a common tradition to set off fireworks that symbolise the gunpowder guy Fawkes was found with and also burning an effigy of Fawkes. This fake Guy Fawkes is normally made from old clothes filled with straw and paper with left over turnip lanterns as a head, usually from Halloween that took place less than a week earlier. Some children will even go around asking for ‘a penny for the guy’ so that they will be able to collect enough pennies to see the fireworks. Another popular custom is heating food over a bonfire. Marshmallows, sausages and potatoes will be heated to keep everyone warm whilst they watch the sky for fireworks. Most towns and cities have their own main bonfire and fireworks sometimes with torch parades, however some will also have their own private parties at home and it is not uncommon to hear fireworks during the evening!
Today the debate rages on as to whether Guy Fawkes is a hero or a villain. Some see him as an individual who stood up for the people of his country and against the oppression of the government, whereas others see him as an anarchist who didn't care about putting others lives in danger. What do you think? Please feel free to let us know!