Saturday, 5 November 2011

Guy Fawkes & Bonfire Night

The church is St Michael-le-Belfrey, it is wholly Tudor and was built between 1525 and 1536 although the west front has a Victorian facade.
Guy Fawkes was baptised here on April 15th 1570, he probably lived just around the corner in Stonegate, and he attended St Peter’s School in York. In 1604 he became involved in a plot to assassinate the Protestant King, James I. Fawkes along with a small group of English Catholics led by Robert Catesby, planned to blow up James as he attended the state opening of the Houses of Parliament on November 5th.

The plot was foiled, and Fawkes who was discovered with 36 barrels of gunpowder in the House of Lords cellar, was tortured and then executed for treason. On November 5th 1605 Londoners were encouraged to celebrate the King's escape from assassination by lighting bonfires. A tradition which continues throughout the UK today with fireworks and effigies of a "Guy" burnt on a bonfire.

The pupils of St Peter's school also enjoy fireworks on Nov 5th but never ever burn a guy. "We do not burn Old Boys" as one Headteacher memorably stated. The school has also recently named their virtual learning environment iFawkes.


  1. iFawkes! We do make progress.

    So many modern traditions are based in early barbarism (body of Christ, anyone?). But I won't deny a good bonfire can be fun, especially on a cold, November night.

    Thanks for the history. I'd never have known Fawkes was baptised in this historic church.

  2. Great to know some of your local Fawkes history!

  3. Fawkes was of course just the fall guy - the Catesby's were the real villains.


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