Today our visiting foreign teacher, a lass from Glasgow with a cute and nice accent, had told us about the story of Guy Fawkes, the Gunpowder Plot and the Bonefire Night. This historical event was held on November 5th 1605, in London, England. A gang of four plotters tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the King. This plot seems to be related to a religious conflict between Catholics and Protestants in England at the time. In 1600s England was ruled by James I (VI of Scotland)
Later at home after reading about this historical event I was surprised to see references to Spaniard collaborators in the plot. After all, this Guy Fawkes had served in the Spanish army in Flanders.
During the class the visiting teacher showed as a document that sum up the Gunpowder Plot (which I haven’t got and which was not given to us) as she talked about it. Then we did an exercise with a short text with gaps we had to fill up. Here it is:
Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night
In November …1605… a group of men, led by …Robert Catesby…, decided to make a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London. The men were angry about the way the Catholic people were being treated in England. At this time the King of England was James I (and VI of Scotland) The plot is known as the Gunpowder Plot. The group of men put 36 barrels of gunpowder in the …(cellar of the) Houses of Parliament… and they waited for the King to open Parliament. Guy Fawkes, who came from York, was the man who was going to light the gunpowder and cause the explosion. The group of men were made out of strong Catholic community members who wanted England to return to the Catholic faith. However, the plan was discovered at the last minute because one of the conspirators had a friend in the Houses of Parliament and sent a letter to him, warning him to stay away of the House on the day the attack was supposed to take place. The letter (called the Monteagle letter) was intercepted and handed to the King, who learned of their plan to kill him.
The police found Guy Fawkes in the cellar of the Houses of Parliament the very same day the blow up was being carried out and arrested him. Then they found the gunpowder and caught almost all the men involved in the plot which were tortured and killed.
On …November 5th… British people remember the spectacular attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament by celebrating ‘Bonfire Night‘. All over Great Britain there are …fireworks… displays and bonfires with dummies (models) of Guy Fawkes which are burned on the fire. It’s normally quite cold on Bonfire Night so people wear warmth clothes, hats, scarves and gloves to spend the evening outside. Traditional Bonfire Night food is …jacket potatoes… and toffee apples. This year is the …403rd… anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot and there are special events being held in London to remember the events of 1605.
Houses of Parliament, 1605, fireworks, 403rd, November 5th, Robert Catesby, jacket potatoes
After the Bonfire Night story the teacher asked us some questions to check whether we had understood the story. We also watched a short video from the BBC about the five main conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot. I’ve searched and found in Google video some videoclips about Gunpowder Plot, among them the videoclip we watched about the five conspirators and a half an hour video from the BBC which tell the story in a comedy-like way.
We also were supposed to watch another video showing the fireworks display in Glasgow, which she usually go to every year. But we didn’t. I’ve searched and found in Google Video several videoclips about Bonfire Night in Glasgow.
The teacher told us that, as well as firework, there is also a fairground with lots of rides and other attractions. Children burn dummies of Guy Fawkes, and ask passers-by for a “penny for the guy”. In the past, the money collected was usually used to purchase fireworks, but now the law has changed and you have to be over 18 to buy them.
These were some of the discussion questions we put in common afterwards:
- Which festivals in your country remember historical events?
- Do you have any festivals that are similar to Bonfire Night in your country?
- When do you have firework displays in your country?
- Do you think you would like Bonfire Night? Why/ Why not?
- Do you think festivals are a good way to remember historical events?