With Bonfire Night coming up, people all over Britain will be gearing up for a night of spectacular light shows, big fires and sweet treats. All over the country, huge piles of wood are being collected to burn on November 5th and the people of London are getting excited.
If you’re joining us at the Montcalm Shoreditch, you’ll find plenty of places to celebrate Bonfire Night close to our 5 Star London hotels. But what exactly is the point of Bonfire Night? Everyone’s heard the tales of the Gunpowder Plot but here we take you on a journey into the past and uncover the real history behind the story.
The famous story of the Gunpowder Plot, originally known as the Jesuit Treason, took place in 1605 has been whispered through the centuries but the 5th of November wasn’t where it all began. The story started long before that when King James I of England made the decision to excommunicate all Catholic Priests from the country.
The decision to force all Catholic priests out of the country caused much uproar from the Catholic community, having previously been assured they would be treated respectfully. A number of revolts and violent protests were carried out over the years leading up to 1605 but it was a small group of men recruited by Robert Catesby who took it upon themselves to plan out an attack that would change the nation for good. The plan was to kill King James.
A highly distinguished and educated man, Catesby was respected by his peers and held a very wealthy estate. Although his parents were Catholic, Catesby was a practising protestant for most of his life, until the death of his father and wife caused him to revert to Catholicism. After seeing the dismay caused by King James’ banishing of the Catholic priests, he decided that a grand act of violence was the only answer and so he sought the help of his cousins Thomas and Robert Wintour and began to devise the Gunpowder Plot.
The aim was to kill King James in addition to a number of his close royal relatives, senior members of the Privy Council and the bishops of the Church of England. This was to be done by blowing up the House of Lords on the 5th of November during the State Opening of England’s Parliament.
Despite still being recognised as the leading conspirator, Guy Fawkes was, in fact, a soldier who was only recruited for his experience with explosives. The plot was devised over a series of months in taverns and secret meeting rooms around London. Fawkes was given the job of guarding the 36 barrels of gunpowder and lighting the fuse.
It was an anonymous letter sent to the authorities which brought an abrupt end to the plot. During an immediate search of the lower levels of the Houses of Parliament, Guy Fawkes was found guarding the barrels. He and a number of his co-conspirators were hanged for treason and the celebratory event that took place the following day has evolved into what we now call Bonfire Night.