Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night)

Guy Fawkes Night

(Bonfire Night)

5th November


Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason & plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
Why do we celebrate Guy Fawkes Night?

Henry VIII’s Reformation in the 16th century made life uncomfortable for Catholics in England & by the time James I came to the throne, they were a bit fed up. A plot was hatched by a group of Catholics, led by Robert Catesby, to blow up the Houses of Parliament with the King & Members of Parliament inside. They hired a cellar beneath the building & snuck in barrels of gunpowder.

One of the plotters sent a letter to warn his MP friend to stay away from parliament that day but the letter was passed on to the King & when the King’s soldiers checked the cellars on November 5th, they discovered Guy (Guido) Fawkes who had been given the job of guarding & lighting the gunpowder. Whether the letter is actually to blame for the discovery of the plot or if the plan would actually have worked, we shall never know. The gang made their plans in a public inn & could easily have been over-heard. Could you really buy that much gunpowder without being noticed? Rumour has it that the gunpowder was fairly poor grade & wouldn’t have done the job anyway!

To celebrate the King’s survival, bonfires were lit around London & in honour of this, bonfires are still lit on November 5th & an effigy of Guy Fawkes burnt on it. This is simply called ‘a guy’ & is made by stuffing straw or newspapers into old clothes & adding a face. The guy is often wheeled around by children with the cry ‘penny for the guy’ in an effort to raise money for fireworks for the evening’s celebrations.

For more information on the plot, visit

Image for Guy Fawkes Night

How to make a guy for Guy Fawkes Night/Bonfire Night/Fireworks Night


Tie each sleeve of an old shirt with a piece of string at the cuff. This is to stop the newspaper escaping. Do the same to the bottom of the legs of an old pair of trousers. Button up the front of the shirt (if need be) & tuck the bottom of the shirt firmly into the waist band of the trousers. Screw up sheets of newspaper & stuff into the shirt & trousers to pad them out.

Turn the body (top section) of a pair of tights inside out & drop the legs inside. Fill with newspaper & then make a knot in the top of the tights. Cut eyes & a mouth out of scraps of material & glue or sew on. If you find it easier, draw the face onto a paper plate, cut a small hole on either side of the plate where the ears would be, tie & knot a piece of string through each hole & then tie them together at the back of the head. Finish off with a hat & jacket. If desired, you could also add socks stuffed with newspaper & shoes.


Guy Fawkes Night Food

There’s a lot of standing around outside in the cold on Guy Fawkes Night so you can either go for a hearty stew to eat indoors & warm you up before venturing out or stick with more traditional hand-held fare to keep your hands warm. Once back in the warmth, get temperatures back up with mugs of hot chocolate.

Mug of soup

Baked potato
Refried beans
Grated cheese
Tortilla chips

Sticky Gingerbread
Toffee apples

Hot Chocolate with all the trimmings – marshmallows, cinnamon, whipped cream & grated chocolate. Add whisky or Tia Maria to the adults’ mugs if not driving.


Toffee Apples Recipe                                   

makes 8


8 eating apples
400g caster sugar
1 tsp vinegar
4 tbsp golden syrup
8 lolly sticks


Pour boiling water over the apples to clean & remove the wax coating. Dry well & then push a lolly stick into the stalk end of each apple.

Place the sugar into a pan with 100ml water & heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Add the vinegar & golden syrup, then boil to 140C – use a sugar thermometer to measure.

Quickly dip the apples in turn in the toffee until covered & leave to set on a tray lined with baking parchment. Take care as the toffee will be very hot. If the toffee starts to harden before you have finished, warm it up again.


Decadent Hot Chocolate Recipe

serves 8


300g dark chocolate (preferably no less than 70% cocoa solids)
1.5l milk
3 tbsp. caster sugar
whipped cream        }
grated chocolate      }  optional
mini marshmallows  }


Break the chocolate into pieces & place in a pan with the milk & sugar. Whisk gently over a medium heat until the chocolate melts & small bubbles appear at the side of the pan. Pour into small mugs & decorate with whipped cream, marshmallows & grated chocolate.


Fireworks are easily available at this time of year from newsagents or supermarkets. Once bought, keep in a safe, dry place in a closed box that is inaccessible to children & where they can’t be set off accidentally.

On the night, keep spectators well back from the firework area & only have one or two adults responsible for lighting the fireworks. Light the fireworks using a taper so that they are at arms length & never go back to a lit firework even if you think it’s failed; it may go off at any time. Keep a bucket of water handy for an emergency  – used sparklers can be put in it too.

Keep animals inside.



Apple Bobbing: fill a large bowl of water with water & add some eating apples. Contestants try & get an apple out of the bowl without using their hands ie using their mouth. Not  very easy as the apples bob all over the place & as soon as you apply any pressure (the weight of your head) it sinks under the water. Have plenty of towels handy!

Treacle Scones: thread a piece of string through a scone, tying the end so it doesn’t fall off. Repeat for as many scones as you need. Tie the top of the string to another length of string laid horizontally. Tie the two ends of the horizontal string to two posts or have two people hold them. The scones should hang down. This needs to be over a plastic sheet or outside as very messy! Cover the scones with treacle. Contestants try & eat the scone without using their hands.



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