Guy Fawkes

Guy Fawkes

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York resident and regular contributor. Fascinated by this historic city and always keen to promote local, independent businesses. The man taking the photographs and tweeting from @Jorvik

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Guy Fawkes, the infamous conspirator, was born in York in 1570 and christened on 16 April 1570 in St Michael le Belfrey Church, High Petergate, as listed in the church register. Various claims are laid to his birthplace – one in particular being a small cottage at the rear of what is now the Guy Fawkes Inn, High Petergate, where Fawkes’ mother had a cottage. The Inn is opposite St Michael le Belfrey and dates from the early 18th century though the site has evidence of earlier buildings.

Although Fawkes was christened in an Anglican church he later converted to Catholicism. Fawkes attended St Peter’s School in York and two of his fellow students, brothers John and Christopher Wright were involved with him in the Gunpowder Plot. For around seven years until 1598 Fawkes fought in the Eighty Years War for Spain. In 1603 and now going by the Italian name Guido, Fawkes visited Catholic Spain requesting support for a Catholic revolt in England; however, Philip III rejected the request.

By 1604, Fawkes had joined Robert Catesby’s small band of English Catholics, whose plan was to assassinate the Protestant King James I using gunpowder to blow up the Houses of Parliament. The five main conspirators held their initial meeting in May 1604. Later that year they leased an unused room beneath the House of Lords to stash their gunpowder and by 20 July 1605 had 36 barrels stored. Fawkes was to be the one to light the fuse; he then would flee to the Continent for Catholic sympathy.

Guy Fawkes & the Conspirators

Guy Fawkes & the Conspirators

In late July the Opening of Parliament had been postponed until 5 November. Fawkes was now under heavy government surveillance; further suspicions meant King James ordered a search of the cellars below Parliament. Shortly after midnight on 5 November Fawkes left the cellar – he was arrested giving his name as ‘John Johnson’. The hidden gunpowder was unearthed. Fawkes admitted intending to blow up Parliament and was tortured in The Tower. By 8 November he had revealed his identity, details of the plot and its perpetrators, and his confession was obtained. A damning letter, addressed to Guy Fawkes, was found on his person.

In January 1606 all eight plotters were found guilty of high treason and condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered. On 31 January Fawkes and three others were led to their grisly executions; Fawkes, the last to be executed, broke his neck in the noose dying instantly.

On 5 November 1605, and thereafter, following an Act of Parliament (in force until 1859), Londoners celebrated the failure of the Gunpowder Plot by lighting bonfires – a tradition still upheld in England today. On 5 November 2005 York Minster’s illuminated display celebrated the Gunpowder Plot’s 400th anniversary.

The Guy Fawkes Inn   

The Guy Fawkes Inn, High Petergate, is a centrally-placed Grade II listed building dating from 1700 and is overlooked by the majestic Minster; earlier known buildings on this site may date to the 15th century.

The Guy Fawkes Inn, where Guy Fawkes was born

The Guy Fawkes Inn, where Guy Fawkes was born

The Georgian-fronted Inn displays a ‘blue plaque’ stating that Guy Fawkes the notorious conspirator of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot was born there in 1570 though his birthplace may have been in nearby Stonegate – as another blue plaque claims. In fact Guy Fawkes was christened in 1570 in St Michael le Belfry Church opposite the Inn and did live in the locale.

The Inn, which underwent extensive refurbishment in 2008, serves real cask ales and traditional pub fare. Each Sunday night it hosts a popular and well-attended Folk Evening with live music and ‘the spoken word’.

With its gas-lamps, roaring fires, timber floors, exposed timbers and many alcoves the Guy Fawkes Inn bestows a homely though somewhat sombre atmosphere – in part due to the dark wooden panelled walls and dark wood throughout.  A slanted wooden staircase leads to the second floor. Most of the guest rooms have wonderful views of the Minster and/or St Michael le Belfry Church and one room boasts an antique poker table. Thirteen guestrooms in all make up the establishment with the ground floor being divided into three areas: a small front room with a carved bar and restricted seating which has six hand pulls offering mainly local beers, a larger, comfortable lounge with an open fireplace and a rear dining area. There is also a rear courtyard area at the back where Guy Fawkes’ mother’s cottage is to be found.

The cottage has two rooms available to guests.

Various reports exist of hauntings in the Inn and further investigations have found evidence of strong paranormal activity in the building.

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