Bonfire Night

10 Bonfire Night facts that might surprise you

by Northern Life

An unhappy ending

Guy Fawkes was not hung, drawn and quartered, as per the traditional death for traitors in 17th century England. As he waited for his punishment, Fawkes leapt to his death to avoid having his testicles cut off, his stomach opens and his guts removed. Instead, he died of a broken neck and his body was subsequently quartered.

It’s the Law

As recentley as 1959 it was actually illegal to not celebrate Bonfire Night in Britain.


There was an exception to the law, as St Peter’s School in York where Guy Fawkes attended still refuses to burn effigies of its former pupil.

Not the only one

A total of 13 conspirators were tried, however it is Fawkes who remains synonymous with the gunpowder plot.

Hot stuff

Sparklers can get five times hotter than cooking oil and a rocket can reach speeds of 150mph.

The first

The very first fireworks display in England took place at the wedding of Henry VII in 1486.

Would it have worked?

While the 36 barrels of gunpowder would have been enough to destroy Parliament, some still claim the gunpowder was too old and would not have properly exploded if ignited.

A colourful creation

Between 600CE and 900CE, Chinese alchemists accidentally stumbled upon the crude recipe for gunpowder – potassium nitrate, sulphur and charcoal. In the 1830s, Italian pyrotechnicians invented the aerial shell for fireworks and also worked out that using metallic powders could create specific colours.

The cellar that Fawkes tried to blow up was destroyed by a fire

The cellar that Fawkes tried to blow up was destroyed by a fire in 1834 that also destroyed the medieval Houses of Parliament.

Blinding light

You see the explosion of a firework before hearing it because sound travels at 761mph, but light travels at 671,000,000mph.