Guy Fawkes night: the celebration of torture and execution

Guy Fawkes night: the celebration of torture and execution

On only one night of the year, we celebrate the hanging and quartering of Guy Fawkes, the man accused of plotting to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 with 36 barrels of gunpowder, matches and fuses. An effigy of the man, made from straw and old clothes, is burnt on top of a bonfire while endless fireworks of different sizes and shapes light up the night sky.

At the end of 1605, the whole of the Houses of Parliament was searched and Fawkes arrested. He underwent two days of torture in the Tower of London before confessing to the crime. On 31st January 1606, Fawkes was executed, along with eight other conspirators, by being hung, drawn and quartered.

So, should we ask some questions: is it right for us to be celebrating the gruesome murder of the man every 5th November? Today, many may be happy if a terrorist was killed but would we celebrate their death annually for 400 years?

We asked a fireworks salesperson their thoughts on the most explosive night of the year:

Do you know the reason why we let off fireworks?

I know a bit. It’s because this guy (Guy Fawkes) wanted to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

What are your thoughts on the celebration of the death of Guy Fawkes?

It’s a good night and gets families out. Maybe we would be better off without the Houses of Parliament though! Please don’t use my name.

How does firework night affect your business?

My business is growing all year. We wouldn’t be fussed if it was taken away because people come here for things like weddings, birthdays etc. so we don’t rely on bonfire night but it’s still the busiest time of year.

Although the origins behind Bonfire Night are morbid, you can see why people pay to see fireworks displays:


Some social media users have expressed their opinions on the annual celebrations: (Disclaimer – These tweets do not reflect StoryHub’s own views)

Contributors: Tom Hunt, Gabriele Glebute, Oscar Edwards, Anabel Coupland.