Guy Fawkes Night, as Remembered by Jane
They will all be from the bonfire celebration at Alveston in Warwickshire.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November…
We lived in Stratford upon Avon and there were a number of local bonfire celebrations to choose from but must of them were very crowded and impersonal. One year, when our daughter was in Primary school, some friends recommended we go to the one at Alveston, and from that point on, we never went anywhere else! Alveston is a very small village outside of Stratford, complete with its own church, two pubs and a ‘big house’ (common term used for the old stately homes). The most wonderful thing about the Guy Fawkes celebration at Alveston is that it was funded by the owners of the ‘big house’ and was actually held in their ‘back garden’ – probably something like 20 acres – and was really only frequented by the ‘locals’ who knew about it. There were never more than a few hundred people gathered in that field. You made a donation (the amount being up to you) at the gateway which was covered in fairy lights (what the Brits call any string of sparkly lights – including the ones you put on your Christmas tree) and once inside you’d head straight to the right where you could buy a freshly cooked burger, a toffee apple, and the all important ‘Tucker’s Tipple’ (a very warming boozy concoction that was the invention of Mrs Tucker, who lived in the big house – a real local treat). Then, the children would spy their friends from school and be off, running around and playing until the bonfire was lit. Sometimes they would even chant ‘Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpowder treason and plot. I see no reason why gun powder treason should ever be forgot.’ , or a variation on it as understood by 5-10yr olds. Each year the bonfire at Alveston was constructed from wooden pallets sometimes just randomly stacked, but other years into a specific shape. I remember one year they were actually stacked to resemble the shape of the Houses of Parliament. Always at the top of the bonfire would be the Guy, a person-like figure constructed from newspaper or straw stuffed into old clothes – intended to represent Guy Fawkes.
Most years, the 5th of November was quite chilly and/or rainy so we would cradle our Tucker’s tipple in our hands and get as close to the bonfire barrier as we could immediately after it was lit in order to warm ourselves, but in no time at all, we would be backing away from the fierce heat of the raging blaze. It really was quite a spectacle! We watched the blaze, sipped our drinks and chatted until the fire started to wane and the first firework was lit. You would never have believed it was just a privately funded display as the fireworks were fantastic and directly overhead. We would ooo and ahh for a good 20 minutes or so as the fireworks danced in the dark sky. There was always a big flourish of fireworks at the very end. The children would then go back to playing again in the light of the bonfire as the adults hung around chatting and enjoying the last of the Tucker’s Tipple. These bonfire nights were such a wonderful time spent with very dear friends that we miss very much. I could never forget the fifth of November – thank you Guy Fawkes!
Photos from the 2007 bonfire celebration at Alveston in Warwickshire, kindly contributed by David
Remember, remember the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
‘Twas his intent,
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below.
Poor old England to overthrow.
By God’s providence he was catch’d,
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip Hoorah!
Hip hip Hoorah!
A penny loaf to feed ol’Pope,
A farthing cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to rinse it down,
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar,
Burn him like a blazing star,
Burn his body from his head,
Then we’ll say: ol’Pope is dead.