First and foremost, thanks to Lorna Lowrie for guest authoring today’s post!
A small group took shape, under the leadership of Robert Catesby. Catesby felt that violent action was warranted. Indeed, the thing to do was to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In doing so, they would kill the King, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament. Today these conspirators would be known as extremists, or terrorists.
To carry out their plan, the conspirators got hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder – and stored them in a cellar, just under the House of Lords.
But as the group worked on the plot, it became clear that innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts. One of the group members even sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the Parliament on November 5th.
The warning letter reached the King, and the King’s forces made plans to stop the conspirators.
Guy Fawkes, who was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, was caught, tortured and executed.
Even for the period which was notoriously unstable, the Gunpowder Plot struck a very profound chord for the people of England. In fact, even today, the reigning monarch only enters the Parliament once a year, on what is called “the State Opening of Parliament”. Prior to the Opening, and according to custom, the Yeomen of the Guard search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster. Nowadays, the Queen and Parliament still observe this tradition.
On the very night that the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, on November 5th, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night. The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.
Remember, remember the 5th of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…
In these days of economic crisis these community initiatives should be encouraged but we also live in the days of uber cautious “Health and Safety” people, you know the sort – the type that want 5 different disclaimers signed and reams of red tape before you can even think about opening a match box.
Well there is a way around the “Wet Blanket Brigade”. Digital to the rescue, Ilfracombe Rugby Club in the UK have forgone all the pain and suffering of form filling by having a digital bonfire. The event – dubbed ‘non fire night’ – will see dozens of families hold sparklers and gather around a massive screen showing film footage of a bonfire. Recorded images of a roaring real fire will be projected onto a 16ft by 12ft screen mounted on a scaffolding stand – at a cost of $600. Sounds of crackling wood will also be broadcast on loudspeakers and $5,000 fireworks will be fired into the air. Around 2,000 people are expected to turn up to wave sparklers and munch hot dogs in front of the UK’s only virtual bonfire.
Sounds good to us Brits, as long as the beer and hot dogs are real!