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Celebrating Bonfire Night in York | Birthplace of the infamous Guy Fawkes

Celebrating Bonfire Night in York | Birthplace of the infamous Guy Fawkes

As we’ve found on our European Roadtrip Adventures, with so many cultures to show off — and so many centuries of practice — Europe knows how to throw a party. The array of fiestas, medieval fairs, music festivals, and national celebrations could light a fire under the most burned-out sightseer!!!!

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So having enjoyed Easter in Croatia, the Christmas Markets of France or Portugal…. we’ve also found time to embrace the orange and enjoy Holland’s ‘KingsDay’ with new Dutch friends….so where better to experience Bonfire Night than in Guy Fawkes’ birthplace of York at the hugely popular ‘York Maze Fireworks‘.
Ok, it’s a pretty well known story… but here’s a little recap about the origins of Bonfire Night for everyone reading this from outside the UK….. On the 5th November 1605 a York man, Guy Fawkes, was discovered about to ignite 36 barrels of gunpowder underneath the Houses of Parliament. His aim was to spark a Catholic revolution. Fawkes was born in York in 1570, probably at a house in Stonegate. He was only one of a number of conspirators but was the one left holding the match (for those who’ve missed it, you can see the whole plot unravel in the new hard hitting BBC Drama ‘ Gunpowder Plot‘)
So why visit York on Bonfire Night? As regular readers will know, we’re desperate to give our girls a unique ‘road schooling experience’  across Europe… Education for us, is all about the process of learning (as our Top 5 Roadschooling Experiences might suggest…) and we subscribe heavily to the saying ‘Tell me, and I’ll forget, but teach me and I’ll remember…. but best of all involve me and I’ll learn….’

Celebrating bonfire night in Guy fawkes birthplace

So where better to grab a chance to learn about the Gunpowder Plot then experience a fantastic family fun experience at a Bonfire Night in York itself!! Another history lesson that follows on from our visit to York’s Medieval History (Henry VII, Barley Hall & Richard III Experiences)…. 

Even time for some Roadschooling

So although our girls were desperate to see the fantastic fireworks spectacular we still had to  use it for a new ‘Roadschooling Experience‘ so here’s a few facts that we found and thought we’d share with everyone:-

  • Political protesters sometimes wear Guy Fawkes masks to protect their identity.
  • The only place in the UK that does not celebrate Guy Fawkes Night is St Peter’s School
  • Did you know that the 2,500kg of gunpowder Fawkes hid would have wreaked damage almost 500 metres from the centre of the explosion
  • Fireworks were invented in the 10th century when a Chinese cook accidentally mixed three common kitchen ingredients – potassium nitrate or saltpetre, sulphur and charcoal and added it to a bamboo shoot……..hey presto fireworks were born!!!
  • Fireworks arrived in Europe in the 14th century in Florence. The first recorded fireworks in England were at the wedding of King Henry VII in 1486.
  • Dummies were burned on bonfires to drive away evil spirits. Following the gunpowder plot of 1605 there was only one to use….. Guy Fawkes!!
  • The term ‘bonfire’ might come from ‘bone-fire’ when the bodies of witches or heretics were burned instead of being buried in holy ground.
  • The Houses of Parliament are still searched for gunpowder by the Yeomen of the Guard before the state opening.
So a genuinely enjoyable evening in York following a fantastic new road schooling experience….. for those following us, next week sees us planning to learn more about owls (Birds of Prey Centre, Helmsley), dissolution of the monasteries (Rivealux / Fountains Abbey), get some PE into the curriculum at Dalby Forest before returning to marine biology at The Deep (following our recent Sea Life Centre visit to Scarborough)

York Maze

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Ever wanted to pack your bags, just jump in a motorhome and go off and explore Europe as a family? Well, that’s exactly what my family has done since September 2015. Visiting 35 European countries, travelling over 54,000 miles and grabbing over 450 family experiences on the way… enjoying Bobsleigh in Norway, Climbing into Mt Etna in Sicily or Kayaking the River Dordogne.

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