The Gunpowder Plot and a Borders Connection


Each year we celebrate with fireworks and bonfires Guy Fawkes plot to blow up Parliament on the 5th November 1605.  But you probably didn’t know the opening of Parliament was delayed by a month because of the bubonic plague.  That extra month of sitting around, rattled the conspirators nerves and gave time for some to have second thoughts about the plan.  Not least because of the 36 barrels of gunpowder hidden behind bundles of firewood under the Parliament.   One of the conspirators cracked and wrote an anonymous letter to the MP Lord Monteagle and the plot was discovered..

A Borders Connection to the Gunpowder Plot

Thomas Percy  was a member of the group of English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.   In his youth Percy was reportedly “very wild more than ordinary, and much given to fighting”.  However in 1596 his cousin  Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, appointed him constable of Alnwick Castle (where the Harry Potter films were shot) which is a short drive across the border into England.  The Percy family have occupied Alwnick Castle for over 700 years.

Alwnick Castle reflected in the river

Alwnick Castle

Percy like many, became disenchanted with the new king, who he believed had reneged on his promises of toleration for English Catholics. In 1604 he joined with Rober Catesby’s conspiracy to kill the king and his ministers, by blowing up the House of Lords with gunpowder.  Percy helped fund the group and secured leases to properties in London, including the room beneath the House of Lords, in which the gunpowder was placed.

When the plot was exposed early on 5 November 1605, Percy fled to the Midlands.  He caught up, with some of the other conspirators on the way to Dunchurch in Warwickshire. Their flight ended on the border of Staffordshire, at Holbeche House, where Percy was killed(and buried) early on 8 November by the Sheriff of Worcester and his men.  His body was later dug up, and his head exhibited outside Parliament – as was the tradition with traitors.  Since they couldn’t try Percy, his cousin, the Earl of Northumberland (although not involved in the plot) was locked up in the tower of London for 15 years.

BONFIREs & Fireworks on 5th November 

Here’s a roundup of the bonfires and firework displays in the Scottish Borders.

Halloween sparklers


Where: Gala Rugby Club, Galashiels, TD1 3HE
When: 6.00pm (Gates open at 5.00pm)
Price: £3 adults, Children free
Info: Organised by Heriot-Watt Student Union. Fireworks, food, refreshments and live music. All proceeds going to charity.

Ettrickbridge Bonfire Night & Fireworks Display

Where: Kirkhope Primary School
When: Torchlight procession will leave Kirkhope Primary School at 6.00pm
Price: Wristbands are £3 per adult/child (Available from Kirkhope Primary School in advance or on the night from 5.30pm)
Info: Home-made soup and refreshments available. Glowsticks will be available to buy. No sparklers allowed

Peebles Annual Firework Display

Where: Victoria Park, Peebles
When: Bonfire Lit at 7.00pm, Fireworks start at 7.30pm
Price: Free (Any voluntary donations made at the entrances to Victoria Park will go to local good causes. For each donation, glow-bands will be given out to children)

Dolphinton Fireworks Display

Where: Dolphinton, West Linton (Across from the Church Hall)
When: Fireworks display at 7.00pm
Price: Free
Info: Soup and hotdogs to follow

Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Traquair Fireworks Display

Where: Organised by the Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Traquair Rotary Club. To be held in the field behind the St Ronan’s Health Centre.
When: Bonfire Lit at 7.00pm, Fireworks start at 7.30pm
Price: £3 per person or £10 for a family ticket

Broughton Fireworks Display

Where: Broughton Village Hall, Broughton
When: Bonfire Lit at 6.00pm, Fireworks start at 6.30pm
Price: Free (Donations accepted)
Info: Soup and sandwiches available in the hall afterwards

Biggar Fireworks Display

Where: Church Hall, Dolphinton ()
When: Fireworks start at 7.00pm
Price: Free

Info: Parking available at the Hall.   Refreshments, soup and hotdogs will be served after the fireworks

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