Tag Archives: 1605

Who Was Guy Fawkes

On the eve of May 20th 1604 five men met at the ‘Duck and Drake Inn’ this was to be the first of many meetings to plan what some consider could have been the biggest terror attack England has ever seen, The Gunpowder Plot. John Wright, Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy, Guido (Guy) Fawkes and their leader Robert Catesby were the five main conspirators of the gunpowder plot, although later on in a confession made by Thomas Wintour it was found that a total of thirteen men had conspired to blow up the Houses of Parliment, these five men were at the heart of the plot.

Come Back Guy Fawkes

So why did they plan to blow up the King and how did Catesby get a group of men to follow such a traitorous plan? Well, in February 1604 Protestant King James I ordered all Catholic priests to leave the country.  Catesby, his cousin Thomas Wintour and John Wright were not happy with this and plotted to kill the King and replace him with his daughter, Princess Elizabeth. However, they did not have enough support to take down the King so Catesby sent his cousin Wintour to Spain to ask for their help. Although Spain and England had been bitter enemies, Spain wanted peace with England and refused to help but while out in Spain Wintour was introduced to Guy Fawkes. Guy Fawkes was at this point fighting for the Spanish army in Flanders. Fawkes was a British national but hated the Scottish and detested King James’s plan to unify the countries. Wintour was interested in Fawkes because of his knowledge and expertise in explosives so explained his plan to assassinate the King. Fawkes was onboard and the two sailed back to England to continue their plotting. This takes us to the meeting at the Duck and Drake Inn on Sunday 20th May 1604.

guy fawkes inn...

Through family connections Thomas Percy managed to secure a position in the Royal Bodyguard, this meant the men now had an insider as well as a house not far from Parliament. Guy Fawkes then posed as Percy’s servant so he could move freely through Parliament. While Fawkes and Percy were mapping out Parliament the other 3 men started storing Gunpowder in the house and in December 1604 had started construction of a tunnel towards Parliament. By February 1605 the plotters had reached the foundations of the House of Lords. However, on the 25th March 1605 in a stroke of luck, Thomas Percy managed to secure a Vault right under the House of Lords and the tunnel was no longer necessary. So Fawkes started loading up the Vault with the barrels of gunpowder and kindling which he concealed by placing firewood around it.

Gunpowder Treason and PLot Fireworks Barrage by Standard Fireworks

They had originally planned to put their plot into play on October 1605 but due to concerns with the plague, the opening of Parliament was delayed until November 5th. In a bizarre twist, Lord Monteagle receives an unsigned letter telling him not to attend the opening of Parliament. Lord Monteagle did show the letter to the King’s Chief minister but was not aware that one of his own servants got word to the plotters that their plot may be in peril. This did not deter the plotters and Guy Fawkes was sent to ensure that everything in the vault was still in place, it was and the plan was still in motion.

On the 2nd November, the letter sent to Monteagle was presented to the King and he immediately orders a covert search of Parliament. While the vault hiding the Gunpowder was noted straight away during the search Guy Fawkes told the guards it was a large amount of firewood being stored by his master, the Royal Bodyguard Thomas Percy and the search team considered this to be true. However, just after midnight on the 5th November 1605 the King ordered another search of Parliament and Fawkes is found dressed for a crossing over the Thames. He was also found in possession of fuses and matches so was quickly arrested. Further searches of the vault revealed 36 barrels of gunpowder and Fawkes was dragged before King James for questioning.

Over the next following months, the plotters were rounded up and put on trial for treason. On the 27th January 1606 eight of the men including Fawkes was found guilty of treason at Westminster Hall. The punishment for such an attempt on the Kings life was a most unpleasant death and on the 31st of January 1606, Fawkes was hung in a public execution.

After this, on the 5th November 1606 Londoners were encouraged to celebrate the escape their King had made from the assassination attempt and instructed big bonfires to be lit as part of the celebrations. Parliament decided to make the 5th November a day of thanksgiving, this remained in place until 1859. However, by the 1650’s people had started to combine fireworks shipped in from China with their bonfires to create a celebration like no other. Although Parliament does not officially recognise the 5th November as a day of celebration or holiday it is still very widely accepted as one of the biggest celebration nights of the year.

#1605 #5november #guyfawkes #guyfawkesnight

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The Jesuit Gunpowder Plot

In 1605, London was a very different place and the Houses of Lords were the hub of all political decision-making at the time.

In the late 16th and early 17th centuries across England and the rest of Europe, Catholics were being persecuted mercilessly thanks to the Protestant ‘reformers’ who said that his holiness The Pope Paul IV, Head of the Catholic Church, was, in fact, the antichrist! Guy Fawkes and his friends were all recusant Catholics. This meant that they were forced to attend the service at the local Anglican Church and refusal to do would result in them being labelled as ‘recusant’ and fines were levied along with the removal of personal property and sometimes imprisonment. There are reports of fines levied of £60.00 and even loss of land if they refused to receive the sacrament of the Lords Supper at least once annually in an Anglican Church.

The King was expected to take the side of the Catholic’s to a small degree which would remove the need to take action but he seemed to back off with his reforms re-introducing the Recusancy Acts.

Guy was so incensed by the ongoing pseudo political rumblings in the country that he actually went over to Spain to fight for the Catholics in the 80-years war and returned some while later with Robert Wintour and the plan was created to kill the King and kidnap the 9-year old Princess Elizabeth, a Catholic and put her back on the throne.

They collected together a group of men who felt much the same about the situation in the country and hatched a plot to place 16 barrels of gunpowder under the Houses of Lords and blow them all to pieces in the most daring terrorist attempt England had ever seen.

At the same time, the Country was quite literally under siege from the added threat of the Plague which in turn delayed the state opening from October to November.

The plans were eventually uncovered thanks to a letter being sent to Lord Monteagle advising him to stay away from the State Opening which in turn was passed onto the King and the search began.

On the first attempt of the search of the undercrofts beneath the Houses of Lords they failed to find anything but on the second attempt, they came upon Guy Fawkes who gave his name as John Johnson. He was arrested on the spot and consequently tortured until he gave up the remainder of his conspirators. Needless to say, the court was a bit of a whitewash as the sentencing took a couple of minutes at the most and they were all to be put to death by being hung, drawn (dragged along the streets whilst tied to wooden pallets upside down) and quartered.

Guy, knowing that the end was in sight decided that he wasn’t keen on having his genitalia removed (ooch) and his bowels displayed for the birds and fowl to eat before being chopped into pieces and distributed to the ‘four corners of the Kingdom’ and once on the scaffold, he leapt to his death.

Here we are, over 400 years later and we still hold the same fascination for the Gunpowder Plot and of course Guy Fawkes.


Guy Fawkes And Bonfire Night Fun

On November 5th 1605, Guy Fawkes and a group of conspirers attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament with King James I in the building, in the notorious Gunpowder Plot. The plot intended to kill not just the King, but also his family and most of the Protestant aristocracy in a single attack.

The conspirers were caught before they could carry out the plot, and soon after Guy Fawkes was executed and many of his followers hanged, drawn and quartered.

Today, the failure of their plot and the preservation of the King’s life are celebrated with firework displays and the burning of Guy Fawkes on bonfires.

A great way to involve children in Bonfire night is giving them the task to make their very own Guy Fawkes. All that is then left to do is sit back and watch the different colour fireworks light up the night sky.

Making a Guy Fawkes:

What you will need:

Old clothes (trousers, shirt, shoes, hat etc)
Dry straw
A round balloon
Paper mache paste
A Guy Fawkes mask or face paints
Wooden stick (approx 40cm long)
Old scrap material

1.     Lay the old clothes out on the floor in the shape of a person. Use your imagination with the items of clothing you pick, and try to make the Guy Fawkes look as authentic as possible. Researching the story of the gun powder plot will be both fun and educational.
2.     Take the straw and some of the newspaper, and stuff the clothes with as much as possible. Secure all the body parts using string, ensuring that the straw doesn’t escape from the arms and legs.
3.     Next create the paper mache head. Blow up the balloon to the size of the head that you require and securely tie the end. Find a bowl that the balloon will fit inside whilst you work on it, as this is the messy bit!
4.     Take the remaining newspaper and tear into strips, 1 inch thick. Prepare the paper mache paste according to the instructions on the paste. Dip the strips of newspaper into the paste and begin covering the balloon with the wet newspaper strips.  You should not quite cover the entire balloon – leave a small hole, big enough for you to put the stick into, as this stick will attach Guy Fawkes’ head to his body.
5.     When the balloon is covered, sit it in the bowl and allow to completely dry. Once dry, add another layer, and allow to dry once more.  Once the paper mache is totally dry, use a pin, and poke it through the small hole to pop the balloon.  Once the balloon has popped, your paper mache head should still keep its shape.
6.     Your head is now ready to be decorated with either the mask or whatever craft materials you wish. Perhaps use painted string for hair?
7.     To attach the head on to the body, get a thick wooden stick approximately the length of your Guy Fawkes’ body and push it firmly into the straw where the neck of the Guy Fawkes would appear. Position so there is at least 20cm of the wooden stick still showing. Cover the exposed end of the stick by wrapping it with old scrap material and cover the end with glue. Place the head on top of the wrapped stick and gently press down to make sure the head is stuck firmly on to the body.
8.     Your Guy Fawkes is now ready to be a part of any bonfire or fireworks display party.

Firework paintings

This is an opportunity for your children to create their own very safe fireworks display!

What you will need:
A large sheet of black cardboard
Scraps of coloured paper and card
Cardboard tubes (kitchen roll etc)
Small sheets of coloured cardboard
Glue and scissors
Clear or black thread
A selection of sparkly things! (e.g. metallic pens, scraps of tinsel, glitter, bright pipe cleaners, sparkly paints)

1.     Take all the sparkly materials you have gathered, and decorate the large piece of black cardboard with them. Create swirls and explosions as this will form the night sky background of the display.
2.     Next create some rockets. Decorate the cardboard tubes with the sparkly materials. Create cone tips for the rockets using the small coloured pieces of card and attach with glue. Attach two lengths of thread to the rocket, with the front being slightly shorter than the back so that the rocket is pointing upwards.
3.     Next create some Catherine wheels using the bright pipe cleaners. Bend into shape and attach a piece of thread to hang them with later.
4.     Now create some starburst explosions using the scraps of tinsel. Attach thread to the centre of them.
5.     Attach your night sky background to a wall where you can hang the firework objects you have created from the ceiling, slightly in front of the background, for a 3D effect.

The best thing about bonfire night is coming home to some delicious home made food, for recipe ideas click here.