Sunday, 3 November 2019

By the numbers: A historic timeline of Bonfire Night

The SQ, Bonfire Night
Fireworks on 5 November at Albert Bridge, London. Photo credit: BBA Photography/

1. 1605

Guy Fawkes and a group of conspirators attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5 November. Fortunately, what is later known as the Gunpowder Plot is foiled when a member of the group sends a warning letter to a friend working in Parliament.

2. 1606

In January, Parliament passes the Observance of 5th of November Act, calling for an annual thanksgiving to celebrate the conspirators’ defeat. In subsequent years, the anniversary is marked by parades, fireworks and bonfires.

The SQ, Bonfire Night
Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night, is typically celebrated with bonfires and fireworks

3. 1859

The Observance of 5th of November Act is repealed by the Anniversary Days Observance Act, which abolishes laws relating to celebrations from 17th-century political history, including the Gunpowder Plot. However, the tradition of Bonfire Night continues.

4. 2002

Anti-hero Guy Fawkes is named as the 30th Greatest Briton in a BBC poll.

5. 2019

This year, revellers can watch displays of fireworks commemorating Bonfire Night all across London, including at Alexandra Palace and Wimbledon Park.

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