Through rhyme we have kept alive an event which happened over 400 years ago. The man who was partly responsible for our traditional bonfire night on the 5 th November was of course Guy Fawkes. A Yorkshire man born in 1570 to protestant parents, Guy converted to Catholicism soon after the death of his father. Guy Fawkes served in the Spanish army, gaining a reputation for being a brave solider, loyal to his chosen cause, and an expert in gunpowder.
Working with the two main conspirators Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy and eleven other collaborators, they hatched a plot to blow up the House of Lords in the spring of 1605. These plans were somewhat thwarted by the out break of the plague and the event was re scheduled for 5 th November.
Unforeseen delays, events and a traitor to the group eventually lead to all being killed or taken prisoner to theTower, where after weeks of torture the whole conspiracy was known. Guy Fawkes was taken from the Tower of London on 31 st January 1606 with others, and executed opposite the very building they had tried to destroy.
The practice of lighting fires early in November is a great deal older than the story of Guy Fawkes. This ritual dates from the pagan times, when the month of November was considered to be the month of death. It was believed that evil spirits roamed the land spreading death and misery. Bonfires were lit on 1st November to rid these dreadful happenings. What a coincidence it is, that this event should coincide with the Gun Powder Plot.
Since 1606, before the opening of each new Parliament, the buildings are searched to ascertain the safety of the Government.