British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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NOV. 5.]                         GUNPOWDER PLOT,                                  411
burning of "a good guy" was a scene of uproar perhaps unknown to the present day. The bonfire, for example, in Lincoln's Inn Fields was conducted on a very grand scale. It was made at the Great Queen Street corner, immediately opposite Newcastle House. Fuel came all day long in carts properly guarded against surprise. Old people have re­collected when upwards of two hundred cart-loads were brought to make and feed this bonfire, and more than thirty " guy8" were burnt upon gibbets between eight and twelve o'clock at night.*
The butchers of Clare Market, also, were accustomed to celebrate this anniversary in a somewhat peculiar style ; one of their body, personating Guy Fawkes, being seated in a cart, with a prayer-book in his hand, and a priest, executioner, &c, attending, was drawn through the streets, as if going to the place of execution; while a select party, with marrow­bones and cleavers, led the way, and others solicited money from the inhabitants and spectators. The sums thus ob­tained were spent at night in jollity and carousing.—Sports, Pastimes, and Customs of London, 1847, p. 39.
The following time-honoured rhyme is still sung, and varies in different parts of the country:
"Pray remember The Fifth of November, Gunpowder treason and plot; For I know no reason Why Gunpowder treason Should ever be forgot. Hollo boys! Hollo boys ! Hurrah."
In Poor following:
Eobin's Almanack for the year 1677 is the
" Now boys with Squibs and crackers play, And bonfire's blaze Turns night to-day."
* The following extract is from the Evening Standard (February 5th, 1875) :—" This morning at ten o'clock the Yeomen of the Guard (Beef­eaters) made their usual search before the meeting of Parliament for any barrels of gunpowder that might be stowed away in the vaults under the Houses of Parliament."
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