5th November, Remember!
Posted on 27th October 2020 at 20:08
We all know the phrase: remember, remember the 5th of November.
What does it actually mean?
As we crunch our toffee apples and think about Bonfire Night (as ‘thinking about it’ might be the only thing we can do this year), the occasion marks the disruption of The Gunpowder Plot of 5th November 1605, an event that marked a turning point in our history.
And not many people know that one of the culprits was a Yorkshire lad …
While travel and events are restricted at the moment, you can still discover the story behind ‘the bad Guy’ who, along with his co-plotters, very nearly pulled off the Gunpowder Plot.
So, what was the Gunpowder Plot?
It was a plot that Guy Fawkes and several others hatched with the aim of blowing up the Houses of Parliament, killing King James I at the same time.
This bold move hoped to spark a Catholic revolution in England.
Guy's home city of York had been the centre of the Catholic resistance in the 1570s and 1580s.
When he was enough, Guy served ten years fighting in the Catholic Spanish army where he gained his knowledge of explosives.
The plots was foiled on 4th November, though it was set to take place on 5th November.
The Plotters hired a cellar beneath Parliament where they managed to smuggle in 36 barrels of gunpowder.
Guy’s key role was to the light the fuse, then sail to Flanders by way of an escape.
Who Was Guy Fawkes?
Guy Fawkes was born in York in 1570 probably in a house in the Stonegate/Petergate area, close to York Minster.
He was baptised in the nearby St Michael le Belfrey Church.
His father Edward was a Protestant and died when Guy was just eight years old.
When Guy’s mother remarried (a Catholic) they moved to a village near Knaresborough. Guy continued his education in York at St Peter’s School.
What was so special about 5th November?
In 1605, the State Opening of Parliament was set to take place on this date.
The State Opening would be attended by the Royal Family, the Lords and the Commons.
Had the plot succeeded, it would have caused incredible destruction, death and harm.
Why did the plot fail?
The plot was ‘discovered’ on 4th November, following an anonymous tipoff letter. The cellars were searched, and Guy was discovered and arrested.
What happened to Guy?
Guy Fawkes met a gory end as he was hung, drawn and quartered in January 1606. The four quarters of his remains were taken far and wide as a warning to others.
The Guy Fawkes Trail, York
Whatever your thoughts on the Gunpowder Plot, the city of York has many connections to this turning point in history.
York’s incredible architecture is always fascinating to see, and if you know where to look, you can walk the Guy Fawkes Trail around some of the city’s finest buildings.
Starting with the Grade I Listed Building, the King’s Manor (now part of the University of York) is located in Exhibition Square YO1 7EP. This beautiful building was visited by King Henry VIII and James VI of Scotland while on his way to London to become James I of England.
Museum Gardens/St Mary’s Abbey
These stunning gardens and abbey ruins are popular with tourists and during Guy’s childhood, the abbey was used as a quarry for stone. St Mary’s Abbey was once a splendid building and is thought to have rivalled York Minster with its splendour before Henry VIII closed it down.
Micklegate Bar, close to Micklegate and its large number of pubs, was the Royal Entrance to York. The bar was used for grand civic ceremonies during Guy’s time. When Guy Fawkes was executed, his head was placed on a stake at Micklegate Bar, giving a stark warning to any rebellious individuals who had similar ideas!
Now called the Bar Convent Living Heritage Centre, this building was known as the Convent of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin at Micklegate Bar. In the 1530s, over three decades prior to Guy’s birth, King Henry VIII had dissolved monasteries and convents and the Bar Convent was founded on … you’ve guessed it, 5th November 1686, when it was still illegal to be a Catholic. The building has numerous escape routes.
York’s magnificent River Ouse flows through the heart of the city and has several bridges that span it.
A bridge of some sort is thought to have been in place here since the 9th century and the current one dates from 1821.
In the time of Guy Fawkes, the bridge was crowded with buildings including the dreaded Kidcotes Prison. It was here that Margaret Clitherow awaiting trial for harbouring priests. She also met a grizzly end by being crushed to death.
The York Dungeon
This tourist attraction includes a Guy Fawkes exhibition and is located in Clifford Street.
All Saints Pavement
Another Grade I listed building; this parish church is in Coppergate. Outside this magnificent building, Thomas Percy, the 7th Earl of Northumbria was beheaded for leading the Catholic uprising of 1569 - although he didn’t even have a trial …
The Shambles in York is one of the city’s most famous streets. Its cobbles, narrowness and ancient buildings still retain a great sense of history.
The amazing element of The Shambles is that today it looks pretty much the same as it did in Guy’s time.
Since the medieval period, this was a butcher’s street. Margaret Clitherow was married to a butcher and live in The Shambles.
Her execution probably inspired Guy, was a teenager at the time.
Guy Fawkes Birthplace
Located on the corner of Stonegate and Petergate, the buildings are thought to be the birthplace of Guy. Guy’s grandparents and father are all buried in York Minster.
St Peter’s School
Where Guy was educated but not open to the public.
St Michael le Belfrey Church
Located in High Petergate, Guy was baptised here.
So, when you give ‘a penny for the guy’, attend a bonfire and watch fireworks, even if this won’t happen this year, the Gunpowder Plot is the reason behind it. With such strong connections to Yorkshire, it is fascinating to know that you can walk around this ancient city and be transported back to those turbulent times. You can also download the Guy Fawkes Trail here.
Tagged as: 5th November, Remember
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