The Gunpowder Plot

Under Westminster Palace

The oilskin pelt containing a map of tunnels had been read and re-read again. Senses keen to the slightest sound with lighted torch he moved furtively between the red brick and cement walls which seeped with water from the Thames. The air down there was dense and his long cloak and clothing were heavy, cumbersome. Rats scampered here, there and everywhere but one large stray paused, seemingly entranced by this gigantic interloper. Smoke from the torch was choking him, but reluctant to cough lest even a murmur give himself away, his answer was a short swift kick which sent the rat back on its way. The Houses of Parliament would exist no more before the end of this day.

Along with about a dozen other conspirators, in 1605 a man named Guy Fawkes had planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament, killing King James 1 after which, they were going to install a catholic monarch back onto the throne.
This conspiracy was thwarted and Guy Fawkes was caught red handed with a lighted slow burning match waiting for the right time with over 30 barrels of gunpowder which would have completely destroyed Westminster Palace (the seat of UK government) killing the king and everyone else who were to attend the opening of Parliament.
Under the dreadful tortures used in those days, Guy Fawkes eventually named names and most of his conspirators were either killed or captured. Sentenced to death for High Treason, Guy Fawkes was due to be hanged, drawn and quartered (a gruesome death) but as he was being led up the high scaffolding he jumped off and in the fall, broke his neck, killing him instantly but in doing so,  he saved himself the agonies of being only half hung, and before dying completely, drawn and quartered.
This plot became known as the Gunpowder Plot It became traditional every year on the night of the 5th of November for most of the UK to hold Guy Fawkes Night or, bonfire night. A celebration which involved everyone having bonfires (which was also a way of burning all their old furniture, and any unwanted things and such, in their back gardens and setting off fireworks after dark to celebrate the fact that the Houses of Parliament  were not blown up.  (Not so sure they’d be so happy about that these days) In my youth we would make a ‘Guy’ which was a figure made up of old clothing, jacket, pants and such, stuffed with newpaper to fill it out and we’d put a mask on it for it’s face and then put into a wheelbarrow or, sit it against a wall and we’d sit and collect a ‘Penny for the guy’ which we’d spend on sweets or, it was supposed to be spent on fireworks (which were freely sold in all stores back then)… .and when bonfire night arrived the guy would be placed on top of the high bonfire and then we’d light it and watch it burn.
There were even some rhymes which became quite well known one being:
Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…’

Shared with The Sunday Whirl #45

Author: Daydreamer

I live on a beautiful island in Atlantic Canada.

12 thoughts on “The Gunpowder Plot”

  1. A wonderful way to learn history. I must admit while I have heard of Guy Falkes and knew there was a celebration with bonfires I was not totally aware of the background. I had watched a show on our Public Service Station (USA) about some of the underground of England. Amazing. Thank you for being a delight to read and a teacher to learn from.

  2. agree with Brenda – V for Vendetta has much to commend it and your piece does to and reminds me of the film also – very nice!

  3. An interesting story well told, ddt, and you wove the wordle words into it seamlessly. Thanks for sharing some of your country’s history with us. 🙂

  4. DDT: I feel like I say this every time I come here…but I love, love, love they way you bring the wordle words together to teach me something I didn’t know. You did it again!! ~Paula

  5. Always look forward to a bit of history or a bit of literature when you do your Sunday wordling! It always amazes me how you work the words!!

    1. If my history lessons had been written as you have done I may have known all about Guy Fawkes. Thanks to your wordle contribution I have learned about something I should have learned in school.

    1. Really like the idea of the pelt being the map. A good use of those wordle words, and well woven in the story of the Gunpowder Plot.


  6. If they had such punishments today, I’m sure crime would be at an all time low, but still that would just be brutal, glad I wasn’t born back then.

  7. I do remember this piece of history but not in this detail. I really like that you post the details on some areas of history from time to time. I love history and especially England’s. A good read.

  8. Oh my, you must watch V for Vendetta, if you have not. It is among my top 5 favorite movies of all time. In an interesting way, it revolves around the Guy Fawkes story. Remember, remember, the fifth of November….

    This is a great write…you’ve filled in more background on Fawkes for me. Thank you.

  9. Wow… how naturally the words are woven within this fascinating historical recap. I especially like:

    reluctant to cough lest even a murmur give himself away, his answer was a short swift kick which sent the rat back on its way

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