Guy Fawkes

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, but Guy converted to Catholicism soon after the death of his father. Guy Fawkes served as a footman at Cowdray Park in Sussex before joining the Spanish army, gaining a reputation for being a brave soldier, 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, the gunpowder plotters hatched a plan to blow up the House of Lords in the spring of 1605. These plans were somewhat thwarted by the outbreak of the plague and the event was rescheduled for 5th November.

Unforeseen delays, events and a traitor to the group eventually lead to all being killed or taken prisoner to theTower of London, where after weeks of torture the whole conspiracy was known. Guy Fawkes and seven other members were executed on 30th and 31st January 1606 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.