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Remembering the Gunpowder Plot

Following the Gunpowder Plot, a lot of bitterness was felt on both sides:
  • the Protestants believed that it showed how dangerous Catholics could be and so justified the persecution of them;
  • the Catholics felt that the plotters were just a few extreme men who had been framed by the king’s chief minister, Robert Cecil, who let the plot ripen for a few days between reading the warning letter and searching the cellars in order to create maximum dramatic effect.
The date of the discovery of the plot (5th November) became a national holiday and a popular time for celebration by Protestants, burning images of the Pope on bonfires and ringing church bells.

Although this was abolished in 1858 when religious rivalries weakened, many people still like to mark the event today by setting off fireworks and burning ‘guys’ (effigies of Guy Fawkes made by stuffing old clothes with newspapers) as it brings some joy before the dark, cold winter season begins.

The Houses of Parliament are also still searched by the Yeoman of the Guard before the state opening of Parliament each year, however this is done as a traditional custom rather than a serious anti-terrorism precaution.