gunpowder treason day

1) This was the original name for what we now call ‘Bonfire night or ‘Plot night’, the celebration on 5 November of the failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

The churchwardens’ accounts of Salisbury for 1611-2 record that the bells were rung ‘on the daie of the Gunpowder treasonn’, and these same words are used in a variety of records into the eighteenth century at least. The celebrations must often have got out of control. On 5 November 1785, a Slaithwaite diarist wrote unruly work this day, and especially at night, having a Fire before Landlord Sykes’s door, ringing a bell and going on the Houses till after midnight. Almost a century earlier, in 1686, the diarist Abraham de le Pryme commented on the banning of bonfires and fireworks by the authorities, saying that it was obvious to the vulgar and everyone that the authorities were intent on the hindering of rejoicings and sports on gunpowder treason night.

places Slaithwaite
dates 1686 1785

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Photo by Kreuzschnabel CC BY-SA 3.0