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YOU ARE HERE > COMMUNITY > BONFIRE NIGHT > EDENBRIDGE BONFIRE NIGHT
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Kent
Edenbridge Bonfire Night Spectacular...November

Gunpowder, Treason, Plot...
and Execution.....80 Years of History!
Kent
 
Kent
Edenbridge Bonfire 80 Year History Gallery
Kent
 

In 1605, a conspiracy was instigated to overthrow the King, James Ist, a devout protestant and the reigning monarch, as well as his government that held the power in England at the time.

But an assembly of conspirators all agreed and derived a plan to "Blow up the House of Parliment" and those that were in "sitting", including the King - to blow them all to "high heaven". 

This was an unexcusable act of treason against King and Country, the consequences if caught were unimaginable, their wish and conspiracy if successfull, was to replace him with a Catholic King.

The main instigator of this pre-meditated crime was Guy Fawkes or commonly known as (Guido Faux), who was born on 13th April, 1570 in Stonegate, Yorkshire, he was baptized in St Michael's Church, York, as a devout Protestant...he would never have considered it under any circumstances to change his religion, but when he was to finally die he would become a devout catholic...!!! 

   

None-the-less they were all determined that this would become a turning point for Britain, if this could be carried out successfully, then everything would change for the people of the country...after great deliberation, the conspiritors all agreed and went ahead with their plans.This hoped for massive explosion would not only partially destroy the building, but was without question hoping that it would bring the Government and King to it's knees and capitulate.

Prior to their attempted coup, commonly named "The Gunpowder Plot", several dozen barrels of gunpowder were secreted into a cellar under the House of Lords, in the Houses of Parliment. 

There, Guy Fawkes had the dubious and dangerous task of setting off the charge, and getting out of Parliment before it exploded...hopefully, without being seen or caught in this well guarded building.

He was not, as is commonly believed today, ready with his lighted torch or match ready to ignite the trail of gunpowder that led to the barrels, but was in fact guarding the "charge" ready for the correct time when Parliment and the King would be seated in the building above...in a few hours time.

Then he would to put flame to gunpowder, flee the building in every endeavour to escape and wait in trepidation for the massive expolosion!

Unfortunately for him, he was seen inside the building's cellar at midnight on November 4th, 1605, he was prepared and waiting for the hours to pass, but was immediately seized by guards and arrested.

A notoriously ill -famed Judge was immediately ordered to travel to London, from his manor of Littlecote House in Hungerford, Berkshire. Judge Popham would command the proceedings and trial against Guy Fawkes, and the names of those who conspired with him against the King and government, this would unquestionably be tortured out of him!.

Well known and notorious in his vehement decisions for justice, Popham's absolute condemnation against him was soon to be announced, this trial was to be one of the most sensational of the day in British history. As the trial commenced, Guy Fawkes was to come under the severest of verbal interrogations by the infamous judge. JudgePopham sentenced him to not only to horrendous torture in a final  bid to extricate from him the names of his fellow conspiritors, but then made the final judgement, by condeming him to death!

During the excruiating torture that Guy had to endure in the Tower of London on the dreaded "Rack", he could not hold out from the intense agony that he suffered and gave in, hence, gave the names of his co-conspirators in a futile attempt to stop the pain.

 

Those whom Guy Fawkes denounced were;

Thomas Wintour, Thomas Percy, Robert Wintour, Christopher Wright, Robert Catesby, John Wright, Thomas Bates.These were quickly rounded up and arrested, imprisoned and in great fear and trepidation as to what they would soon have to endure by the sentence of Judge Popham, as they were the ones who had supported the initial conspiracy.

 

   

Therefore, absolutely no mercy was shown to any of them, in regard to what they were all to eventually face.

Other members of this gang of traitors were named as - Sir Everard Digby and Ambrose Rookwood, who would also face the terrible agony...the same fate and horrendous death as the rest of their fellow conspirators.  

They were all tried at Westminster Hall in January 1606, Judge Popham displayed no mercy, as all were sentenced to be  - Hung - Drawn - Quartered...!!! The first executions took place on January 30th, 1606, the first three were all put to death near St Paul's Church, London, whilst the others were put to death the following day on January 31st, at the Old Place Yard, in front of the Houses of Parliment. Guy Fawkes, was taken from the Tower of London to the scaffold with tied hands and dragged by a horse laying on a wooden wicker sledge to the place of execution, as were all the rest of his fellow conspirators,they were all to suffer the same exact terrible agonising death...

   

He was hung by rope until partially strangled and near to unconciousness then revived, only to be then disembowelled by having his entrails / intestines viciously cut out of his abdomen, he would also suffer emasculation (a cutting off of the genitals / castrated) which were then thrown into a fire and burnt, if he should die with the pain then he was fortunate...then his heart was cut out.

Finally his head was severed from his body, the final act of this sadistic execution, his body was cut in four pieces, his head and the four body quarters were parboiled, so they would not deteriorate too quickly whilst hung-up on the spikes, and placed on London Bridge.

This would be seen by the thousands of passers-by every day, a clear and horrific display that the death sentence had been carried out against a traitor of England and of the King...but also a severe warning as to what would happen to anyone who was determined to undermine the King and Country with any treasonous acts.

This sadistic means of death was first invented in 1241, to execute a pirate as punishment for his crimes, from that time on, this was desired by the government to be continued as a practise to execute criminals.

There are few rumors as to who started this annual anniversary to remember those who had been executed in 1606. It is believed to have been a Mark Antony Lower, who in the 19th century began the dubious honour of starting this celebration every year in remembrance of those who had been executed, hence it became a cult following, on behalf of the "Sussex Martyrs".

Since that time and nearly every year since, apart from the Second World War years it was banned, when in 1945 Guy Fawkes night was resumed in 1945 at the end of the war to commemorate this remarkable event in English history, which was to be remembered on this date - November 5th!

In almost every town in Kent, Sussex, Surrey and across the country, this celebration and tradition was held in ernest for the last 150 years, as it became one of England's most celebrated occasions, where hundreds of thousands of people would remember the tragic but brave conspirators who endeavoured to destroy Parliment and bring a new government for the people of the country at that time.

Effigy's were made in the likeness of Guy Fawkes from paper, cardboard, paper-mache' and wood, even a song was written in his memory, this being sung before the final act of lighting the bonfire where the Guy was to be placed on the top...and burnt.

As the bonfire grew in heat and the flames blazing, it was accompanied with a hail of fireworks blasting into the heavens in the sole purpose of giving all those present a memory of what he - Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators - had tried to do for those in 1605...and for England, on this day!

In many counties across the country this event is celebrated by large bonfire's and firework displays, even in individual homes families get together with either a bonfire and fireworks, or just fireworks to celebrate this day. Other counties especially in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, they hold great festival events in celebration of the death of Guy Fawkes - with a huge parades, bands, tableau's, music, all in a procession of people holding torches following a determined route in each town, so that everyone can come and see this annual event being staged, in every effort to raise money for local charities from every town.

   
The Edenbridge Bonfire Night
   
The Edenbridge Bonfire Night has been involved in this for many, many years now, and such personalities as - Eva Bartok, and the "Great Man" himself  - Winston Churchill - as well as film personalities, actors and actresses have visited the town to open the Edenbridge Bonfire Spectacular...in times long ago!
 

Many local companies supported the Edenbridge Bonfire Night in the past and are always remembered by their continued generous efforts to keep this night "alive" in the town, who gave their lorries and vehicles for the ever immaculate tableau's that many of us can remember riding on or walking alongside with torches, to make this a wonderful night for all who came to this little town of Edenbridge to see some of the best processions and firework displays in all of Kent...and no doubt in all of the South of England...!!!

Those who supported the Edenbridge Bonfire Night back in the 40's, 50's, 60's were -

   

Morley's Haulage Company - x 2 Lorries

Hodges - x 4 Lorries

T.W. Smiths Removals & Coal Delivery - x 4 Lorries

D.H. Honours Mill - x 5 Lorries

Richard Parton -  x 2 Lorries
Alf Holland & Sons -  x2 Lorries & Tractor   

Local Farmers - Donated Many Tractors & Trailers

Bonfire 1949
   
As well as many local individual's who prepared magnificent floats which were dressed up in wonderful colours, with followers on the float's and walking alongside dressed in a wonderful array of fancy costumes with torches, such were the tableau's on the Skeynes Estate, prepared and funded by...Mrs Fulham, Mr & Mrs Moon, and Mrs Stowell...fabulous times! 
 

In fact nearly every local business was involved in supporting the Edenbridge Bonfire Night...much to their delight and pleasure, coachloads of people would come down from London for this special occasion and have a wonderful night.

This was the time when the Bonfire started off at the Dairy, Marlpit Hill, then made it's way through the town to finally be held in "Town Field" in Hever Road, behind the Maidstone & District Bus Company Depot.

When the torches were made of - Tow - and soaked in paraffin then wired by hand by dozens of helpers to hold the material which everyone would carry to light their way...Yes, those were the good old day's of this great event for the town of Edenbridge...!!!

In the 50's the procession started in Stangrove Road, went through the High Street up to the hospital, then back through the town into Lingfield Road, up through Crouch House Road to Stangrove Road, through the town again to "Town Field" in Hever Road.

The procession is generally headed by "The Bishop", this prominent position was held by Ken Brown for many years, he was well known, very friendly and a likeable man, who gave the Edenbridge Bonfire his full support. Following in his Grandfather's footsteps is the "New Bishop" the Grandson of Ken - Jamie Wheeler, who with pride leads the procession and continues to uphold the name in the family honours of the Edenbridge Bonfire!

Every year many in fancy dress follow the bonfire route hoping for donations from well wishers, so that these generous donations can be given to those local charities that are in need of support.

Not forgetting those who for many years in the past combined their every effort to put on the best display of torchlight parades, tableau's and music that Edenbridge has ever seen.

 

Thankyou All For Keeping "The Bonfire Night"....A Night to Remember...For the Town of Edenbridge...!!!

 

(LINK HERE TO ALL THE GALLERY IMAGES FROM 1936 ON)

 

 

All Images and Story are the copyright of  - Kentishtowns - and therefore no illegal use of the images used for this story or on any images on Kentishtowns websites are to be copied or used without prior written permission!

Images and Story written by Ian R. Bridle.

 
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