"Remember, remember! The 5th of November, Gunpowder treason and plot!" Each year on Bonfire Night, November 5th, bonfires are lit and fireworks are let off all over Britain to celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 5th November 1605.
This was an attempt by a band of conspirators to blow up the House of Lords during the state opening of Parliament, which it was hoped would result in the death of King James I, his young heir, and many other lords. The plotters were devout Roman Catholics who had trusted King James I to allow them freedom of worship. When he reneged on his promise they planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament whilst the King was in it, together with all his lords and bishops. The plot was foiled when one of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, was discovered in the cellars beneath the House of Lords ready to set fire to the fuse which would explode 36 barrels of gunpowder that had been stored there in readiness for the atrocity. Guy Fawkes, who was born in York in 1570, was recruited by the Gunpowder Plotters because of his expertise with gunpowder, gained during his military career. Guy Fawkes was questioned under torture and revealed the identities of the other conspirators; they were hunted down and some were killed whilst resisting arrest, including the plotters’ leader, Robert Catesby, or were captured, tried and executed, including Fawkes.
The photographs from our Archive have inspired many childhood memories of this exciting night. Did you put together your "Guy" and walk around with it in a barrow to collect pennies with your friends? How about attending enormous bonfires that had been prepared for weeks, which never failed to deliver excitement on this night? Warm memories abound as towns and villages once again put on their hats, scarves and gloves and come together in the brisk November evening air. We hope you enjoy this mixture of photographs, history and memories. Have a wonderful and safe Bonfire Night everyone!
The ghost of Guy Fawkes is said to haunt the manor house in the Northamptonshire village of Ashby St Ledgers, north of Daventry, which was the family home of Robert Catesby, and where Guy Fawkes stayed for some weeks prior to the assassination attempt. The half-timbered gatehouse of the manor, next to the village church, is where the Gunpowder Plotters met to hatch their plans, and is known as the ‘Plotters Room’.
This is another part of Laindon that is no more. I can remember waiting outside the Fortune of War with a Guy leading up to Firework Night, I always collected lots of change from the kind patrons of this local drinking establishment. I don't think anyone noticed that it was really my sister dressed up in the wagon, if they did they kindly didn't say. Other times of the year we would return beer bottles to the off-licence for a few pennies, they didn't know we were collecting them from the forecourt. And if we were lucky Daddy would be inside and buy us a bag of crisps and some pop. Oh happy days." - Thanks to Christine Hymas for this memory of Bonfire Night!
I remember Guy Fawkes night in Convent Garden, Notting Hill just after the war. The bomb sites were full of adventure and wood to build huge bonfires. For a couple of weeks prior to the big night we Convent Garden Gang members had been out with our Guys collecting money for fireworks, and nicking potatoes from stalls in Portobello Road to cook on the bonfires. Our pleasure knew no bounds, and life was one giant adventure." - Thanks to Dennis Rawlings for sharing his memory!
Here is a wonderful photograph of The Manor House at Ashby St Ledgers, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of Guy Fawkes who stayed here prior to attempting to blowing up the Houses of Parliament and King James I.
One of the many memories I have of Battle is of Bonfire Night, November 5th. Every November 5th, Battle had one of the best November 5th bonfire celibrations in Sussex, it was lots of fun. I remember Battle Rousers (home made fire works), they were awesome, arranged in circles and let fly, they would run and then explode with a huge bang, very scary! There was also a huge parade down the High Street, Guy Fawkes would be placed on top of the big fire in front of Battle Abbey and the fire would be lit. A rousing cheer would erupt. Thanks to the Battle Bonfire Boys. What a memory! The Abbey Hotel across the street did a huge trade that night!" - Thanks to Eric Saunders for sharing this memory with us on our website.
Guy Fawkes was born in Stonegate, York in 1570. This photograph is one of our very earliest, taken by a Francis Frith company photographer in 1892.
Guy Fawkes Night could be quite hazardous, although I remember no one ever been seriously hurt, it was certainly a close run thing. Keith Bradley although not from farming parents had many relations whom were involved in farming and so had ready access to certain farming apparatus, binder twine and the like. One particular Bon Fire Night in the late 50's early 60's he had got hold of a long string of small explosive charges used for bird scaring. These were nothing more than a large number of bangers joined by varying lengths of fuse so as to make the bangs occur at irregular intervals, once lit. These turned out to be very poor as the fuses were far to long to be used as bangers and the final bang not very loud, so in disgust he throw the whole string, 30 or more charges onto the fire. 30 times a small bang is quite impressive especially when in a fire making ash, cinder and assorted burning rubbish fly everywhere, fortunately for him and us no one was hurt and no one had seen who throw what onto the fire. When a little older I had the job of lighting the fire, at that time my best friend was Brian Carling the son of the then Garage Owner. It had been a wet day and so Brian suggested he get a little something to make the fire start easily – a half gallon tin of waste sump oil, diesel and petrol mixed. To my credit I know enough to stand well clear and throw a match on from a great distance, it worked wonderfully, unfortunately Brian didn’t want his tin back so not knowing what to do with it I throw it onto the now roaring fire. As luck would have it I hadn’t put the top back on, as it was the exploding vapour and dregs left in the can caused a sheet of flame to shoot upward ten or more feet, neatly bisecting myself and Brian. I still shudder to think what would have happened had the can been sealed. We would also experiment with bangers, then readily available, making guns by sealing the banger in a copper tube before lighting it, or dropping a lighted one into a milk bottles. It's a wonder any of us are still alive to tell the tale." - Thanks to Nigel Ward Quick for this memory of exciting Bonfire Nights of his childhood!
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