Guy Fawkes: The Tower’s most infamous prisoner!

Guy Fawkes is famous to this day – or should that be infamous – for his attempt to blow up Parliament with gunpowder, on November 5th 1605.

He was a tall striking-looking man, with a big red bushy beard. 

He could speak Spanish because before the plot, he had lived in Spain working with others who wanted a Catholic monarch to take the English throne.

He was part of a group of 13 conspirators, led by a man called Robert Catesby.

It was Catesby’s idea to try to blow up Parliament, and in doing so they hoped to kill the King and members of the Royal family, who were Protestant, and not Catholic.

Guy Fawkes’s job was to guard the 36 barrels of Gunpowder that had been stored in a basement under the House of Lords. 

That’s where he was discovered on the night of the plot. An anonymous letter had been sent to a nobleman, sending a warning of the conspirators’ plans. We still don’t know who sent the letter, but it meant the plot could be foiled, and Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators arrested.

At first, he gave a false name – John Johnson, and even when his true identity was revealed, he did not show any signs of being sorry for his crimes, nor did he seem afraid of his fate, which was to be executed at the Tower of London on 31st January 1606.

You might think that it’s the plot itself that we celebrate on the 5th November each year, but that’s not quite true – it was King James’s  decree that celebrations would be held because the plot was NOT successful!