Warwickshire-born Robert Catesby led the group of Roman Catholic activists that famously failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament in November 1605. His family on his mother’s side were descended from Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton, and as the plot progressed he convinced Everard Digby to rent Coughton Court “the better to be able to do good to the cause [kidnap Princess Elizabeth]”.
Bonfire Night celebrates the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, and the capture and deaths of the plotters including the most well know Guy Fawkes. For me it is also a piece of local history as Coughton Court was barely two miles from my childhood home, and I grew up exploring it and its grounds. Living so close to Shakespeare’s Stratford, and loving the Elizabethan age of discovery it was a thrill to hide in one of the priest holes and read of the traitorous exploits of these past tenants of the house. The fun and excitement of bonfires, burning Guys, and fireworks just made it all the more real.
Today we get distracted by the Guy Fawkes masks, and the grand displays of fireworks, but wherever I may be I always have a moment thinking of England, and how it could have changed so dramatically had this terrorist plot succeeded!