On 20th May 1604, Robert Catesby first met with 12 others and swore an oath of secrecy to kill King James I. As the King was a Protestant, they wanted him removed so that a Catholic could rule instead. Their original idea was to tunnel beneath the Houses of Parliament, but then in 1605 they were able to rent a cellar which was located directly below the House of Lords. This was when the Gunpowder Plot was put into motion and a series of events occurred to give us Bonfire Night.
Below we’ve compiled a list of interesting facts about Bonfire Night and how it came about:
Bonfire derives from the term ‘bone fire’. In the Middle Ages, these types of fires were usually used to burn animal bones.
Guy Fawkes was an explosives expert and his role in the Gunpowder Plot was to guard the 36 barrels of gunpowder that had been placed in the cellar of the House of Lords. If he had managed to light these, he would’ve caused damage within a radius of almost 500 metres.
An anonymous letter sent to Lord Monteagle, warning him to stay away from the House of Lords, prompted the alarm to be raised about the plot.
After the tip off, guards searched the House of Lords and came across Guy Fawkes in the cellar with the barrels, on 5th November. He was immediately arrested and taken to the Tower of London to await his punishment.
Guy Fawkes was not placed on a fire and burned alive, as some may believe. He was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered, but leapt to his death, just before he was hung at the gallows, and broke his neck.
Up until 1959, it was illegal not to celebrate Bonfire Night in the UK. The only place that does not celebrate Bonfire Night is St. Peters school in York, out of respect for Guy Fawkes, who was a former pupil.
To this day, before the ‘State Opening’, the Houses of Parliament are still searched by the Yeoman of the Guards. This usually takes place in November each year when the reigning Monarch visits Parliament.
King James I announced that the 5th November should be the day that people always celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot.
Fireworks were accidentally invented in China in the 10th century. A cook was mixing common ingredients found in the kitchen back then, sulphur, charcoal, and a salt substitute. They were set alight in a bamboo tube and exploded into colourful flames.
The first recorded fireworks display in England was at the wedding of King Henry VII in 1486.
The average sparkler burns between 1000-1500°C. This means that if three of them were burning together, they could reach the temperature of a blowtorch.
Whether you’re celebrating at home or at a larger event, remember to wrap up warm, stay safe and, most of all, have fun.