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Assembly Title
Fireworks and November 5th

Submitted by
S. Daly

Age Group

To learn about firework safety, Guy Fawkes and the November 5th tradition.
The topic of religious intolerance could be discussed with older children.

Faith Group

Poems about fireworks and firework safety
Chalk pictures on black paper, showing fireworks and bonfires, to be displayed when the poems are read
A Rocket Science experiment shows the power of an explosion. Could be done outside, with a class or small group of children, after the assembly.

Time of Year
On or close to November 5th

Other Details
A main character in the story below is
Sir Thomas Knyvett, one of the men who foiled the plot.
You could mention a real person in the plot who lived in your school's area.
Most people keep November 5th as a fun tradition now, not thinking about or even knowing anything about the plot against King James 1.


1. About four hundred years ago, in 1605, King James 1 of England was a Protestant. 
He ordered Catholics to stop saying their own prayers in their own churches. If they did not stop, they would be fined.
The Catholics were very angry and some of them decided to get rid of him.

The leader of the plot was Robert Catesby.
He found some men to help, including: Thomas and Robert Winter, Christopher and John Wright, Thomas Percy and Guido (Guy) Fawkes.

King James and his important men met in the Houses of Parliament in London. 
Robert Catesby thought they could get rid of the King if they blew up the Houses of Parliament.
He hoped a new King would allow Catholics to worship. 

First they needed somebody who knew about gunpowder.
Guy Fawkes was a soldier, so they chose him.
He was a Catholic and agreed to help.
He was born in England, but his real name was Guido.

We now think the Protestants knew what the Catholics were doing and waited until the last minute to stop them.
The plotters rented a house that had a cellar underneath the Houses of Parliament.
Q. Is it likely that a cellar underneath the Houses of Parliament would be rented out to anybody?
The plotters secretly got 36 barrels of gunpowder and put them in the cellar.
Q. How can you secretly move 36 big, heavy barrels of gunpowder through the streets of London, with a horse and cart, without being noticed?

The plotters found out the date of the King’s next visit to Parliament - November the 5th. 
That day, Guy Fawkes set off to the cellar, to light the fuse.

When he arrived at the Houses of Parliament, there were soldiers waiting for him. The soldiers’ leader was called Thomas Knyvett.

2. Sir Thomas Knyvett

Born: 1545, Yorkshire, England

Died: 1622, England

He was educated at Cambridge and became a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to Queen Elizabeth 1.
On the Queen's
visit to Oxford, 1592, he was made Master at Arms and later sat for Thetford in the Parliament of 1601.

In 1603, the freehold of Stanwell Manor (near the present-day Heathrow Airport) was granted to Sir Thomas Knyvett, who, two years later, arrested Guy Fawkes.

Knyvett was also granted the Manor of Staines in 1613, along with additional honours and possessions, as a reward.
After foiling the plot, he was made a Privy Councillor, Member of the Council to Queen Anne, and Warden of the Mint.

When Lord Knyvett died in 1622 his Will provided for the foundation of a free-school in Stanwell, and the Lord Knyvett School was founded in 1624.
Now, there is a secondary school nearby called Thomas Knyvett.

He is buried with his wife.
Above their grave, in the Chancel of Stanwell Parish Church, Middlesex, is a large monument with effigies. The name is spelt both KNEVETT and KNYVETT.

3. Guy had been betrayed; somebody had warned a family member who was a Member of Parliament. The plotters ran away, but soldiers eventually captured them.
They were hanged.

4. King James had been frightened. He wanted to make sure that no one forgot about this treason. 
He said everyone should light a bonfire on November 5th and say prayers so they would not forget the gunpowder plot.

We still remember Guy Fawkes today. 
Each year we light bonfires and burn a pretend Guy and we set off fireworks to remind us of the plot to kill King James.

5. Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes
'Twas his intent
To blow up the Houses of Parliament,
Three score barrels of powder below
Poor old England to overthrow.

By God’s providence, he was catched
With a dark lantern and a burning match!

6. A selection of more poems to include:


There goes another one,

Screaming as it goes.
It's getting high,
Up in the sky,
And fizzle - there she blows!

Up high above the house,

Behind a trail of sparks.
Yellow, orange,
Red and white,
Exploding in the dark!


Bonfires roasting,
Barbeques toasting,
Rockets whizzing,
Sparklers fizzing,
Toffee apples sticking,
Children licking.


Raining silver,

Streaks of gold,
Pearls of amber,
Rubies bold.

Packed into the whizzing shells,
Emerald embers,
Booming bells.

Racing skywards blazing bold,
Unto the heavens,
Stars unfold.


Streamers lighting up the night,
Treating our eyes to a beautiful sight.
Fizz, Bang, Whiz, Pop,
They keep on coming, never stop.

Screeching screamers pierce my ears,
People hear from far and near,
Fizz, Bang, Whiz, Pop,
They keep on coming, never stop.

Flaming colours bright and bold,
Winter’s night that is so cold.
Fizz, Bang, Whiz, Pop,
They keep on coming, never stop.

The last display before the fire,
Last of the fireworks climb higher and higher.
Finally they stop.
No Fizz, Bang, Whiz or Pop.

The match is struck,
A whoosh of heat,
My cold nose tingles,
And my heart skips a beat.

The fire dies down,
The end is near,
But a whisper goes around,
"Can't wait till next year !".


Fireworks are lots of fun,
But here are some tips for everyone:

Don't put fireworks in your pockets,
Underpants weren't made for rockets!

Don't go back once a fuse is lit,
Unless you don't mind losing bits (of yourself)!

Keep your animals inside,
They get scared and need to hide!

Be safe, have fun and don't forget:
You can put out fire with water that's wet!

7. Always follow the firework code

Stand well back
Keep pets indoors
Keep fireworks in a closed box
Only buy fireworks marked BS 7114
Light at arm's length, using a taper
Follow the instructions on each firework
Never give sparklers to a child under five
Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
Never go near a firework that has been lit - even if it hasn't gone off it could still explode


For all the fun of Bonfire night,
For fireworks lighting up the sky,
For Catherine wheels and sparklers bright
And rockets shooting way up high,
For hot-dogs, toffee apples, pop,
And baked potatoes in the fire,
For jumping jacks that skip and hop
And smoke-gold flames that leap up higher,
We thank you, God.

S. Daly 2000

Last updated 6-10-14.