Guy Fawkes' Lantern
When the catholic-persecutor Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics hoped that her successor, James I, son of a Catholic mother, would be more tolerant.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t and a group of young catholic conspirators formed under Robert Catesby to try to bring James down.
In a plot that shook the nation so profoundly that we still commemorate the date, they decided to blow up the Houses of Parliament, to kill the King, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and members of Parliament. Hiding 36 barrels of gunpowder in a cellar under the House of Lords the group started to crack. One of them sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the Parliament on November 5th. The warning reached the King, and an ambush was planned.
In the early hours of November 5th, the King’s forces stormed the cellar, finding Guy Fawkes with the gunpowder. He was arrested, tortured and executed.
The Lantern he had with him and which he would have used to light the explosives survived however. It was given to the University in 1641 by Robert Heywood, son of a Justice of the Peace who had been present at the arrest of Guy Fawkes in the cellars of Parliament House. Transferred from the Bodleian Library to the Ashmolean in 1887.
It originally had a horn window which could be closed completely to hide the light.
The lantern is currently on loan to The Houses of Parliament for an exhibition.
last updated: 04/03/2008 at 16:27