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Valerie Hall offers a round-up of events commemorating the Gunpowder Plot

Almost 400 years after Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators failed to blow up King James I and his Parliament, the distinguished actor Corin Redgrave successfully detonated a trail of explosives further along the Thames at Shakespeare's Globe (see picture story, right).

He was launching one of the exhibitions on the Gunpowder Trail, part of this year's Gunpowder Plot 400 commemorative events.

In Westminster Hall, close to where the action took place, a free exhibition, "The Gunpowder Plot: Parliament and Treason in 1605", will explore the religious background to political events in Europe and England, how the Plot was discovered, and the execution nearby of seven conspirators, including Fawkes himself. The exhibition runs from August 1 until October 5.

The leading plotters were incarcerated in the Tower of London, and Fawkes was interrogated and tortured there. The Tower's new audiovisual display, "Gunpowder Treason", co-produced by the Royal Armouries, runs from July 2 to June 30, 2006. It will emphasise the continuing historical importance of the Plot in relation to contemporary political events, religious terrorism and conspiracy investigations. Related events include a Jacobean-style fireworks display.


Four of the plotters, including the mastermind, Robert Catesby, were members of the Throckmorton family, whose ancestral home is Coughton Court in Alcester, Warwickshire. An interactive Gunpowder Plot exhibition and anniversary events taking place at Coughton Court will include: the Powder Treason, a costumed historical demonstration on June 11, and a Living History 1605 re-enactment on July 2324. A teachers' pack is available.

* The Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey Essex, is staging Robert Catesby's Last Stand on September 1011, which follows the fleeing plotters after Fawkes's arrest. Their Guy Fawkes Experience, September 2425, will include Stuart food and dancing, games, secret messages and Fawkes's ghost.

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot days will be run for primary groups, October 31-November 11.

* www.royalgunpowdermills.comgunpowdertrail2005.htm

As it has for centuries, the Fifth of November itself will be remembered nationwide with bonfires and firework displays. Famous traditions include the 50lb flaming tar barrels borne on the shoulders of stalwart men along the High Street in Ottery St Mary, Devon, and the stunning torch-lit costumed processions along the streets of Lewes, Sussex, culminating in spectacular firework displays complete with exploding effigies of Fawkes and Pope Paul V.

* More information about Gunpowder Plot 400 can be found at: www.parliament.ukparliamentary_publications_and_archivesparliamentary_archi esgunpowder_plot_400.cfm

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