Remember, remember the fifth of November

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,  
I see no reason 
Why the Gunpowder Treason  
Should ever be forgot.  
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent  
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.  
Three-score barrels of powder below  
To prove old England’s overthrow;  
By God’s providence he was catch’d  
With a dark lantern and burning match.  
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.  
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Well, there you have it in a nutshell; the Bonfire Poem commemorating the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Memories are long in England & we still remember a plot to overthrow the Protestant King James I whilst he was in the Houses of Parliament. This was High Treason against King & Country; the consequences if caught were unimaginable, if successful, the next king would be  a Catholic.

 Several dozen barrels of gunpowder were secreted into a cellar under the House of Lords. The main instigator was Guy Fawkes aka Guido Faux who was to set off the charge & escape before it exploded…Unfortunately for him, he was spotted in the cellars at midnight on November 4th,  immediately seized by guards & arrested. Fawkes confessed on the Rack, was tried & found guilty. He was dragged behind a horse from the Tower of London to the hangman’s gibbet to be hung, drawn & quartered. He was partially hung, disembowelled, his heart cut out, his head severed from his body, & his body cut in four pieces which, along with his head, was parboiled, so it would not deteriorate too quickly whilst on show on the spikes aligning London Bridge.

As soon as it is dark on Saturday, the country celebrates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot/salutes the bravery of the plotters depending on religious views (or just for fun) by hosting firework displays & lighting large bonfires.

In Kent, Surrey & Sussex, there are huge parades, bands, tableaux & music all in a procession of people carrying flaming torches through the towns.

Effigies are made in the likeness of Guy Fawkes and the Bonfire Poem is recited before the final act of lighting the bonfire when the Guy is  placed on the top…and burnt.

In Edenbridge, Kent a further effigy of a public figure unpopular with the people is burnt, but true to the tradition of conspiracy, the identity is kept secret until the very last minute.

It’s a great event to watch or take part in, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as the torchlight procession appears out of the darkness & you are instantly transported back 400 years – a tough time to live indeed.

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