History: Bonfire Night

NOVEMBER 5th marks the anniversary of the infamous Gunpowder Plot, when Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up Houses of Parliament in 1605.

The Elizabethan era was a very gruelling time for Catholics as they were persecuted for their religion whilst under her reign.

When James I succeeded Elizabeth I after her death in 1603, there were those who were hoping for a King who embraced their religion – his mother was Catholic after all.

Children traditionally make a 'Guy Fawkes' from old clothes and stuffing, this is where the saying, "penny for the guy" comes from
Children traditionally make a ‘Guy Fawkes’ from old clothes and stuffing, this is where the saying, “penny for the guy” comes from

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as James was caught up in his strict Protestant ways which encouraged Fawkes’ and his team to respond with this plot.

Fawkes’ plan was exposed when his 36 barrels of gunpowder were recovered by authorities in the early hours of November 5th. He was tortured and executed.

On the night of the incident, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King.

This has now evolved into Bonfire Night which is celebrated every year with displays across the country.

According to the NFPA, the most common fire related injury is caused by a sprinkler and a fire cracker
According to the NFPA, the most common fire related injury is caused by a sprinkler and a fire cracker

Each display features ‘The Guy’ – an effigy dressed and stuffed – being burned as a reminder of Guy Fawkes and the fireworks which are a reminder of the gunpowder which was hid in the cellar of Parliament.

It was actually illegal NOT to celebrate bonfire night in the UK until 1959, according to Bonfire Night Safety.

Their website does however stress the importance of celebrating safely.

They said: “Bonfire night can be one of the most exciting nights of the year and it should be, but it is important to keep safe whilst attending a bonfire event.”

FOREST CREATURES & WOODLANDS (1)
Fire campaigners are ensuring that people are keeping safe, to make sure injuries do not occur

Almost a thousand injuries were sustained in a single year caused by fireworks in October and November.

Step-by-step instructions have been provided, from choosing fireworks to safely lighting them, as well as listing the threats fireworks can pose.

Most importantly however, they’re reminding everybody to enjoy themselves on Bonfire Night.

by Elektra Theophanous (@elektrat96), Hayley Scott (HayleyR_Scott), Harry Matthews (@harrymatthews__) and Sophie Long (@sophielong_)