Remember remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot. I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot!
A few years ago, the school where I worked welcomed a visiting group of teachers from Finland and for a short while they observed my ICT lesson. The topic was Bonfire Night and as the teachers were leaving the room, one of them commented on how strange it was that every year we celebrate a man who had attempted to kill our king! I explained that we’re not celebrating Guy Fawkes, we’re celebrating the failure of the plot.
In truth, like many long held traditions the world over, most people today wouldn’t give the reasons a second thought, the night is simply an excuse for a party. However, for those who’d like to know more, but mainly for the benefit of overseas visitors, there is a little history byte coming up shortly.
Our Family Tradition
My late hubby and I hosted our first bonfire night party when our eldest child was only a few months old and hardly of an age to appreciate it, since then it’s been a yearly event, an established family tradition. In the early days, before we moved here, we catered for our friends and neighbours, I made my own bonfire toffee and Ginger Parkin, but the pièce de résistance was and still is a family favourite, our ‘Hot Brandy and Cider Punch’ Adults only.
Fingers are always crossed for a dry night (weather-wise) and back in the day Hubby was the man in charge and would light and tend to the bonfire and of course the magnificent firework display. The children, wrapped up for a cold November evening would wave their silver sparklers, delighting in making patterns against the dark evening. You’d find me in the kitchen creating the essential ‘Bonfire Fayre’, hot dogs with onions, jacket potatoes with cheese, pork pies and mushy peas, toffee apples, Parkin pigs and slabs of gingerbread cake and let’s not forget the giant pan of Bonfire Punch.
My son recently commented that his favourite memory of bonfire night was becoming old enough to drink the Punch!
After all these years, I still have Hubby’s original hand written recipe, though we very soon discovered that Brandy offers the best flavour, never to use vodka and the cider shouldn’t be too sweet.
A Family Affair
My family love Bonfire night and no matter how old they become, bonfire night memories and other family occasions are precious, and coming back to their childhood home to continue in the traditions that Hubby and I carved out for them, is for me, a comforting familiarity.
A couple of years ago, with Hubby no longer with us, it became inevitable that I would concede my role of hostess. Control was handed to the eldest daughter and husband and I imagine that one day they too will pass on the baton, I’d like to think that everything will remain exactly as it is, but will it?
Foodwise, a new tradition has begun. My son now makes the most delicious Black Beer Ginger Bread and I really do mean delicious! So, if you would like the recipe, it can be found at the end of this post (PNG) following the Gunpowder Plot.
The Gunpowder Plot of 1605
Our shameful bit of history – In 1603 when James I succeeded Queen Elizabeth I to the throne of England, he was as intolerant toward Catholics as Queen Elizabeth was during her reign and the persecution of Catholics continued.
The Traitors – Today we’d call them terrorists. In 1605 a group of Catholic men led by Robert Catesby, plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament with the intention of killing King James and his government.
Guy Fawkes, A Yorkshireman, had recently returned to England from fighting in the Spanish army. Guy, also known as Guido was not an original member of the terrorist group, he was approached because of his expert knowledge of gunpowder, knowledge that was gained during his time fighting with the Spanish.
Mischievous Night – During the night of 4th November, Guy planted 36 gunpowder barrels in the cellar under the Houses of Parliament, Guy’s intention was to wait overnight in the cellar until the following day (5th November) when the King was due to arrive, his plan was to light the ‘touch-paper’ and run!
Concerned Conspirators and the King’s Men – A few of the conspirators were concerned that if the plot was successful, innocent people would be killed. Some of the men began to have second thoughts. Francis Tresham one of the conspirators, sent a note to his friend and brother-in-law Lord Monteagle and warned him to stay away from Parliament. Lord Monteagle raised the alarm, the cellars were searched and Guy Fawkes was captured by the King’s soldiers.
Bonfire Night – The tradition of lighting bonfires to celebrate the safety of the king, began on the night of 5th November 1605 after Guy Fawkes was captured and the news of the failed attempt on the king’s life spread.
Fireworks – Today, all over the land fireworks are lit, and sometimes on the top of the fire, an effigy of Guy Fawkes is burnt.
© Sue W-nansfarm.net 2016