With Halloween out of the way the attention turns to Bonfire Night. Up and down the UK communities will be coming together for autumn evenings of bonfires, fireworks and dodgy looking mannequins called Guy. If you’re lucky there will also be a liberal supply of hot chocolate, toffee apples, burgers, hot dogs, jacket potatoes and – of course – sparklers. As you’d expect, here in London there’s plenty of events to choose from – and we’ll come to that – but what of the true origin of Bonfire night. Where did it all start and how?
Well, let’s start with the chap we’ve all heard of… Guy Fawkes…
Guy Fawkes was a member of a disgruntled catholic gang who were (largely because of religious oppression) anti-monarchy. He wasn’t the ring leader (that was a chap called Robert Catesby) but in 1604 the group devised a plan to assassinate King James – by blowing him up in the House of Lords during the state opening of parliament. For the state opening of Parliament in 1605 they managed to hide barrels of gunpowder in the cellars and came mighty close to succeeding. It was only an anonymous letter sent to the authorities on 24th October 1605 that revealed the imminent danger. After two searches of the cellars, troops loyal to the King found Guy Fawkes (who gave his name as John Johnson) guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder. His co-conspirators had made haste (leaving Guy to carry the can) but were eventually tracked down, tortured and executed.
In 2005 (the 400th anniversary of Fawkes’ being discovered in the cellars of parliament) an ITV documentary examined what would have happened had the conspiracy succeeded. They built a replica of the medieval House of Lords and charged it with 1 metric tonne of Gunpowder. The results are quite staggering…
So, whilst you sit munching on a toffee apple, waiting for that dodgy balloon headed mannequin to catch fire on top of his bonfire perch – ponder the real reason that oversized rag doll is up there.
Of course, just where you might be whilst you’re pondering that is completely up to you. You might choose a organised local event, or you might decide to host your own. If it’s the former then here are some displays happening close to our stores
Southwark Presents… FREE Fireworks Night (Nov 5th)
Taking place at Southwark Park, gates for this FREE event open at 5pm. The main fireworks display is at 7pm, but it’s recommended to arrive early as it is bound to be popular. As you’d expect all the usual hot refreshments will be available, as well as a fun fair and fire and light circus. Find out more here
Central London… The Lord Mayors Show (Nov 8th)
Perfect if you want something within striking distance of our Camden Branch, the Lord Mayors Show is another free event and takes place on 8 November. It’s not strictly a bonfire night event – but it does feature with what is hailed as London’s most spectacular Fireworks display – on the Thames between Blackfriars and Waterloo bridge. It’s a Free event and you can find out more here.
Battersea Park Fireworks Display (Nov 8th)
Hot on the heels of the Lord Mayors’ event is Wandsworth’s Battersea Park Firework Display. This is an advance ticket only event at a cost of £7 (1-7th November, £10 8 November, under 10s go free). The Fireworks will be choreographed to music and you’ll also find the customary food stalls and a bar. You can find out all you need to know here.