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Retracing the steps of a gunpowder legend.

It’s that time of year when you officially dig out all the clothes you own and wear them all at once to keep warm whilst pyromaniacs set fire to old tat/furniture/fences in a field and (legal) gunpowder explosions fill the sky. This ritual is quickly followed by a mass clothes wash to get rid of the smell.

However, I love it. It’s one of my favourite times of year. I even buy new gloves for the occasion so that I can safely twirl sparklers to my hearts content (last years pink mitts with diamante tie backs were not really appropriate and have never returned to the same pink colour since).

The food is also brilliant. The thought of it all been based around yummy treacle makes me say ‘ooohh aaahhh’ quicker than a firework finale! Yorkshire Parkin is one of the best cakes in the world and it only raises its lovely little head for this special occasion. Then there is bonfire toffee which is absolutely moreish to say the least. Come to think of it does anyone know what relation treacle actually has to fire? I have no idea!

Of course the real reason for Bonfire Night is not toffee, new gloves or indeed burning wood it is because on 5th November 1605 good old Guy Fawkes from York tried to blow up Parliament. Now, as I have recently moved to York I thought it would be a good idea to take a little look into the life of this gunpowder legend and some of his regular haunts back in the day (although he is said to still actually haunt here too!).

In a nutshell, he was born in 1570 near the York Minster and attended St Peter’s school where he gained some loyal friends. Then on his 21st birthday he inherited lots of York land from his dad (who must have been important as he is buried in the Minster) before choosing a career as a soldier. So far he sounds like a pretty nice chap!

But, then he had to go and spoil it all by trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament to take out the entire Royal family, the Lords and the Commons (he was certainly ambitious!). Yes, what I failed to mention was that those loyal friends would be the gunpowder plotters and that he was actually a member of the Spanish Army fighting against Protestants in the religious wars that raged across Europe. (So, maybe not such a nice chap after all.)

If you want to know more about Guy Fawkes then a visit to the York Dungeons is your best bet as it has a whole section dedicated to him. Another good place to start is the York Minster as his parents and grandparents were all buried inside it. If you fancy walking in the footsteps of Guy Fawkes (without being accused of treason) then The Shambles, famous as the historical butchers street of York, is the place for you. It looks almost exactly like it did when he walked down it over 400 years ago, minus the raw meat smell!

If you want to do a full history tour the Museum of York have a downloadable guide to get you started. Of course, if history is not your thing there is always the popular Guy Fawkes pub to frequent and one of our York hotels to rest your heads in!

Happy Bonfire Night!

What are you doing for Bonfire Night?

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