Great Bonfire Night traditions



Did you know that the tradition of bonfires on 5th November actually goes back over 4oo years? The famous Gunpowder Plot, where the hapless Guy Fawkes was arrested while trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament, took place during the night of the 4th to 5th November 1605. The very next day, the population of London, overjoyed that their king had escaped the dastardly plot, lit bonfires of celebration which formed the basis for our modern day traditions. 

The tradition of ‘guys’ – dummies thrown onto the fire symbolising Guy Fawkes’ failure – started not long afterwards. Nowadays, the tradition is to dress the guy to look like a contemporary figure such as a politician. The old tradition of ‘penny for the guy’ has pretty much died out, but thirty or so years ago gangs of children wheeling homemade guys around the streets and asking for pennies were a common sight. The coins collected were destined to be spent on fireworks for the evenings celebrations. 

Although we can lay claim to the one and only Gunpowder Plot of 5th November, our bonfire night tradition has crossed the seas and established itself in what were once British colonies such as New Zealand. 

While most of us can remember the tradition chant of ‘Remember, remember the 5th of November’, you may not have known that the famous chant (which should be shouted as the guy goes up in flames) has a second and even a third verse!

Remember, remember the fifth of November, 
Gunpowder treason and plot. 
We see no reason 
Why gunpowder treason 
Should ever be forgot! 

Guy Fawkes, guy, t’was his intent 
To blow up king and parliament. 
Three score barrels were laid below 
To prove old England’s overthrow. 

By god’s mercy he was catch’d 
With a darkened lantern and burning match. 
So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring. 
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.

And what shall we do with him? 
Burn him! 

Here at the Swettenham Arms we’ve got a huge traditional bonfire night on 4th November, complete with great fireworks, live music, BBQs, drum circles,fire-pits, novelties, mulled wine and a great atmosphere. Just £5.00 per person, no need to book and no charge for under three years. 

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