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History of the Gunpowder Plot & Guy Fawkes Night

On November 5 people across the UK celebrate Bonfire Night.

The reason they do it is because four hundred years ago, in 1605, a man called Guy Fawkes and a group of plotters attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London with 36 barrels of gunpowder placed in the in cellars. They wanted to kill King James and the king’s leaders who passed laws against the Catholics.  








Catholics had to practise their religion in secret. There were even fines for people who didn't attend the Protestant church on Sunday or on holy days.

A group of men led by Robert Catesby, plotted to kill King James and blow up the Houses of Parliament, the place where the laws that governed England were made.

The plot was simple - the next time Parliament was opened by King James l, they would blow up everyone there with gunpowder. The men bought a house next door to the parliament building. The house had a cellar which went under the parliament building. They planned to put gunpowder under the house and blow up parliament and the king.










Guy Fawkes was given the job to keep watch over the barrels of gunpowder and to light the fuse. However, one member of the group sent a letter to his friend who worked in Parliament, warning him to stay away on November 5. The King's supporters got hold of the letter and on the morning of 5th November, soldiers discovered Guy hidden in the cellar and arrested him.

Guy Fawkes was taken to the Tower of London where he was tortured and questioned about the other plotters. All plotters were executed.

In celebration of his survival, King James ordered that the people of England should have a great bonfire on the night on 5th November.

The event is still commemorated annually in England on 5th November by fireworks and burning ‘guys’ (effigies) on bonfires. The effigies are made out of old clothes stuffed with scrunched-up paper to make them look like a man (i.e. Guy Fawkes).  








As well as burning effigy of Guy Fawkes, the bonfires are used to cook potatoes wrapped in foil and to heat up soup for the crowds that come to watch the fireworks. 

The traditional cake eaten on bonfire night is the Bonfire toffee, a sticky cake containing a mix of oatmeal, ginger, treacle and syrup.  Other foods include sausages cooked over the flames and marshmallows toasted in the fire.

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