Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!"
Today (5 November) we celebrate Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night. The tradition marks the discovery of Guy Fawkes in the cellar of Westminster in 1604.
He was planning to assassinate King James I by blowing up the Houses of Parliament with the King and Members of Parliament inside, but his planned was foiled after an anonymous tip off. That evening fireworks were set off to celebrate the safety of the King and 5 November has been celebrated ever since.
In honour of the day, we thought we'd bring you some fireworks facts:
- Until 1859, it was illegal not to celebrate Bonfire Night in the UK.
- Had Guy Fawkes managed to light his 2,500kg of gunpowder (36 barrels) he would have caused damage within a radius of almost 500 metres.
- Fireworks were actually invented by accident; in the 10th Century, a Chinese cook accidentally mixed three common cooking ingredients (sulphur, charcoal and a salt substitute) and set it alight, which resulted in very colourful flames.
- Fireworks arrived in Europe in the 14th Century; the first recorded display took place in Florence.
- The first known display in England was at the wedding of Henry VII in 1486.
- The Houses of Parliament are still searched by the Yeomen of the Guard just before the State Opening to ensure no-one has hidden themselves in the cellars.
- The cellar where Guy Fawkes' plot was due to take place was destroyed in the fire of 1834, which devastated the medieval Houses of Parliament.