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Did you know? Guy Fawkes Facts

DID YOU KNOW?

Guy Fawkes was not actually Hanged Drawn and Quartered. He cheated the executioners by leaping from the gallows as he was being hanged, thus breaking his neck and saving himself from the painful end of being drawn and quartered!

• Although often attributed with being the mastermind of the conspiracy, Guy Fawkes was not actually the ringleader of the Plot, this was a man named Robert Catesby, a well-known Catholic from a well to do family!

• It is often said that even if it had not been discovered, the plot was doomed to failure, as the barrels of gunpowder had grown damp in their time in the cellar, and would not have ignited anyway. This has recently been proved to be incorrect, and although the quality of the gunpowder had deteriorated, it was certainly enough to fulfil the grim task and would have destroyed the House and all inside.

• King James I was a talented scholar and was the author of Daemonologie, a book about the practice of witchcraft and magic in everyday life, he himself was convinced that it was real and sought to understand it. He even considered suitable punishments for the misuse of witchcraft!

• We have Guy Fawkes to thank for the word “guy”. Traditionally, in the days before the 5th of November, children would make “guys” — effigies supposedly of Fawkes — usually formed from old clothes stuffed with newspaper. These effigies would be exhibited in the street to collect money. The word ‘guy’ came thus in the 19th century to mean a weirdly dressed person and hence in the 20th and 21st centuries to mean any male person!

• A commemorative British two-pound coin was issued in 2005 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the plot.

• The Houses of Parliament are still searched by the Yeomen of the Guard before the State Opening, in a ceremony that commemorates the discovery of Guy and his barrels of gunpowder!

• The lantern Guy Fawkes carried in 1605 can still be seen in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and a key supposedly taken from him is in Speaker’s House, at the Palace of Westminster.

• In John Lennon’s song, “Remember”, the date is referenced in the final line. The last verse is, “No, no, remember, remember the fifth of November,” followed by the sound of an explosion!

• Although popular in most corners of the UK, and in other parts of the commonwealth, Guy Fawkes Night is not celebrated in Northern Ireland!

• It was said that never again should the parliament be opened on the 5th, as a superstition surrounded the date. However, parliament was opened on the 5th of November in 1957.

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