by Malcolm Cook
Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…
Guy Fawkes & the Gunpowder Plot
Words of “Remember, Remember…” refer to Guy Fawkes with origins in 17th century English history. On the 5th November 1605, Guy Fawkes was arrested under the Houses of Parliament with several dozen barrels of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was then tried as a traitor with his co-conspirators for plotting against the government. He was tried by Judge Popham who came to London specifically for the trial from his country manor Littlecote House in Hungerford, Gloucestershire. Fawkes was sentenced to death and the form of the execution was one of the most horrendous ever practised (hung ,drawn and quartered) which reflected the serious nature of the crime of treason.
The Tradition begins…
The following year in 1606 it became an annual custom for the King and Parliament to commission a sermon to commemorate the event. Lancelot Andrew’s delivered the first of many Gunpowder Plot Sermons. This practice, together with the nursery rhyme, ensured that this crime would never be forgotten! Hence the words ” Remember , remember the 5th of November” The poem is sometimes called ‘Please to remember the fifth of November’. It serves as a warning to each new generation that treason will never be forgotten.
In England the 5th of November is still commemorated each year with fireworks and bonfires culminating with the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes (the guy). The ‘guys’ are made by children by filling old clothes with crumpled newspapers to look like a man.
Tradition allows British children to display their ‘guys’ to passers-by and asking for ” A penny for the guy”.