In our final post on London and its associations with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, we focus on the place where Fawkes was put on trial, sentenced and later on hung, drawn and quartered. Happy Bonfire Night folks!
Westminster Hall. Part of the old medieval Palace of Westminster, Westminster Hall has stood still whilst most of London has changed significantly around it. Yet the ideals which the hall stands for are pretty much the same as when parliament first met in this magnificent building in the 12th century…..Democracy, Representation, Authority, Negotiation and a right to be heard.
Unfortunately however, being heard wasn’t one of the things which applied to Guy or Guido Fawkes during his trial for High Treason in January 1606….No siree! It didn’t take very long for Guy to be found guilty (let’s face it, he was caught red handed with the Gunpowder, so it was a pretty obvious crime!!) and sentenced to a very gruesome death of being hanged, drawn and quartered.. we’ll mention that in a bit! Westminster Hall has seen a fair few trials in its history, including kings aswell as more “ordinary folk”, and you really get a sense of its grandeur and splendour when walking around, as if you are part of something steeped in history and part of the very fabric of our country’s heritage.
The big draw to Westminster Hall for families today visiting, apart from it’s obvious significance, is that Hammer Beam roof from the 13th century….What a whopper of a timber roof!! This roof is the largest of its kind in Europe still intact, and it’s worth taking a real moment (and magnifying glass!) to appreciate the intricate and beautiful design of the roof. It may not seem as the most exciting part of a trip to London, but in conjunction with a visit to the rest of the palace, London Eye or Tower of London it will give your tribe a real sense of the story of Guy, alongside tourist attractions today which reflect the modernity of London. You may even see the Queen or Royal family….Did you know? Westminster Hall is still owned by the monarch, and can therefore be used by her anytime she wishes…..it certainly is anything but your “regular” type of venue!
Walk out of the Palace of Westminster and you will find yourself in Old Westminster Square, if you can’t find it ask someone (there will probably be plenty of Police around, there usually are) or look for a map with directions. There certainly isnt any physical evidence of this place of execution, besides perhaps a few drops of blood on the floor – if you look closely enough – it was after all the regular place of execution for criminals who were to be hanged, drawn and quartered This is the place where Guy Fawkes and others met his maker, being “drawn” first of all (dragged behind a horse by being tied to a wooden frame) from his prison cell in the Tower of London, before being hanged on the wooden scaffold, which by now of course has long gone. Legend has it that Fawkes was fortunate enough to break his neck before being taken down and having his inards removed in front of him…..those 17th century lot were brutal….
Enjoy your fireworks, and of course stay safe.