Tag Archives: bonfire night
It was on the 5th November 1605 that a plot, the ‘Gunpowder Plot’, was foiled. The plan had been to assassinate King James I by blowing up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament. But an anonymous letter led to the discovery of 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars, guarded by one of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes. Fawkes was arrested and found guilty of treason. His co-conspirators fled but were tracked down and were either shot or hanged.
News of the plot’s failure spread quickly and bonfires were lit in joyful celebration.. Indeed, in January 1606 the king ordered that henceforth the people of England should have a great bonfire every year on the night of 5th November. It became traditional to place an effigy of Guy Fawkes on top of the fire, sometimes accompanied by an effigy of the pope.
Now, bonfire night, though still widely observed, is simply a pleasant social occasion – an excuse for extravagant firework displays.
The pictures below are from our own small village bonfire celebration, held a few evenings ago.
So, Bonfire Night is over for another year. The pictures are of our village bonfire, held on farmland away from property and away from the road. In two of the pictures the tape keeping the spectators many yards away from the fire is visible. The firework display was spectacular and properly organised. An entrance ticket, food and drink could be purchased and, in case of accidents, the event was insured. I am sure that in all respects the arrangements conformed with the 18 recommendations of the Government’s Health and Safety Executive directive.
But, for me, these occasions are tinged with a degree of regret. I fear that in the rush to ensure safety we are denying youngsters the opportunity to be directly involved and enjoy the excitement of participation – to collect the material for the fire, to make a Guy Fawkes and tout it round the street to raise the pennies to buy fireworks, to experience the taste of burnt jacket potatoes or roast chestnuts. It has now become a spectator event at which young and old pay to watch and have no feeling of ownership and achievement.