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“Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot. We see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot!”

 

Bonfire Night is almost here! You’ve no doubt heard early firework displays take place wherever you are in the UK. Bonfire Night is an annual celebration held every year on 5th November - as the rhyme suggests. The date is marked across Britain with huge bonfires, sometimes with the burning of effigies. But why do we celebrate Bonfire Night and its morbid history?

 

In 1605, a group of Catholic revolutionaries took action against the King, James I. The men were angry over the persecution of their faith in England and when things did not improve under the new King, the men came up with a plot to kill him. It was their hope that during the State Opening of Parliament on 5th November, they could blow up the Houses of Westminster - killing the King and many noblemen.

 

The group, accompanied by the ‘trigger man’ Guy Fawkes, smuggled 36 barrels of gunpowder into an underground cellar - ready to blow the roof off as the ceremony took place. But two hours before the barrels were due to blow, he was caught red-handed by the King's men beneath the palace.

 

Guy Fawkes was tortured for two days at the Tower of London until he gave up his co-conspirators. He was due to be hung, drawn and quartered - but as he awaited his fate, Fawkes jumped from the platform and broke his neck. His hanging went ahead regardless and the four severed parts of his body were sent around the country as a warning.

 

Following the foiled plot, 5th November was declared a national holiday. To this day, Westminster is still ceremoniously searched before the State Opening.

 

 


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