10 Explosive Facts About Bonfire Night

I actually quite enjoyed finding out about the history surrounding Halloween for my recent post To Trick or not to Treat?  So with the 5th of November the next notable date on the calendar, I thought I’d do some digging to find some interesting facts about Bonfire Night.  And this is what I found…

  1. As most people know, the 5th of November is the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot – Guy Fawkes’ attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605, with James I and his government inside.
  2. The plot was foiled because the King’s supporters got hold of a letter sent by one of Guy Fawkes’ gang to a friend warning him not to go to work at the Houses of Parliament on that day.
  3. As with most conflicts nowadays, the root of the planned plot was religion – England was a Protestant country at the time and the plotters were Catholics.
  4. And like so many ill-fated plans, the plotters got together in a London pub to hatch their plan and swear an oath of secrecy.
  5. The plan involved 36 barrels of gunpowder being placed in the cellars under the Houses of Parliament – it’s thought that this amount of gunpowder was enough to destroy an area of 500m2!  Although there is also a theory that the gunpowder in the barrels was decayed and so may not have caused much damage at all.
  6. It wasn’t actually Guy Fawkes who was in charge of planning the plot, rather a man called Robert Catesby from Warwickshire – Lapworth to be precise!
  7. It was Guy Fawkes (or Guido as he liked to call himself) though that was the explosives expert and the one that got caught “red-handed” with the barrels of gunpowder, while his co-conspirators escaped.
  8. Guy Fawkes was taken to the Tower of London and tortured until he gave up the names of his fellow conspirators, who were then brought to the Tower to join him.
  9. Their trial, held in Westminster Hall, was the OJ Simpson trial of the day, with people paying to watch.
  10. They were all found guilty of high treason (most of them actually pleaded that they were innocent) and were all hung, drawn and quartered.  Guy Fawkes though managed to jump from the gallows and was killed before any drawing and quartering took place.
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