Grammar, Vocabulary, Pronunciation...

viernes, 4 de noviembre de 2011

Celebrating the Defeat of the Gunpowder Plot

The Bonfire Night Traditions Begin

Guy Fawkes Night

The immediate impact of the failure of the Gunpowder Plot was for the general population to celebrate with street parties, including bonfires and in later years, fireworks.

Further, November 5th was designated by King James I (via an Act of Parliament) as a day of thanksgiving for "the joyful day of deliverance." This Act remained in force until 1859. It would appear that similar celebrations took place on each anniversary thereafter and, over the years, became a tradition. The practice has remained popular and continues today. Three major components of the celebrations are explained below:

The Bonfire: As early as 1607, there is a record of bonfire celebrations taking place in Bristol on November 5th and it was traditional for children to black their faces with ashes in imitation of Guy Fawkes who, it was believed, performed a similar function in order to try and camouflage himself. Bonfires were often used to cook potatoes known as "roasters" on this special night.

The Fireworks: Fireworks have been a traditional part of the celebrations since 1677. The first record of fireworks being used in England was during the wedding of Henry VII in 1486 and increased in popularity during the reign of Elizabeth I who created a "Fire Master of England."

The Guy: Preparations for Bonfire Night celebrations include making an effigy of Guy Fawkes, which is called "the Guy". Children used to keep up an old tradition of walking in the streets, carrying "the Guy" they had just created, and begged passersby for "a penny for the Guy." The kids used the money to buy fireworks for the evening festivities. The guy was then thrown onto the bonfire. Modern dangers, current laws and the increasing practice of community organized firework displays have now prevented children from keeping up this tradition.

The tossing the guy into the bonfire probably began in the Eighteenth Century and included effigies of the Pope, the Young Pretender and Devils as much as they did Guy Fawkes. The custom of burning the guy had become an integral part of the celebrations by the Nineteenth Century. The model guys are usually grotesque with a clumsy air about them. The head is often villanous-looking and may sport a brightly-colored mask.

What is Guy Fawkes Night?

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was a plan by a group of Catholic conspirators to blow up the Houses of Parliament, in particular the House of Lords upon the event of the next State Opening, thereby killing the reigning Protestant sovereign, King James 1 of England and VI of Scotland. The planned explosion would wipe out the major part of the Protestant aristocracy and usher in a new Catholic monarch.

The exact reasons for the conspiracy are unclear, but it is thought that the principle plotter, Robert Catesby, had the intention of bringing about a rebellion, thereby allowing for greater freedom and toleration of Catholics in a Protestant Great Britain.

The plot began in May 1604 when Catesby's cousin Thomas Wintour employed a mercenary with explosive expertise called Guy Fawkes. With his vast experience of dangerous situations, Fawkes was to be the man to oversee the transportation and lighting of the gunpowder.

Catesby had rented a house close to the Palace of Westminster and had arranged for a tunnel to be dug under the Houses of Parliament. However, this plan was soon abandoned, and in March 1605 Thomas Percy used his connections at the Royal Court to rent a cellar right under the House of Lords. Posing as Percy's servant, "John Johnson", Fawkes filled the cellar with thirty-six barrels of gunpowder.

Everything was now set in place, and all the conspirators had to do now was wait. However, doubts soon came to haunt some of the plotters, concerned that fellow Catholics would be present in Parliament on the appointed day, the 5th of November.
Only ten days before the Opening of Parliament, Lord Monteagle, an apparently reformed Catholic, received an important letter giving warning of the gunpowder plot. The authorship of the letter has never been definitely identified, but Monteagle was Francis Tresham's brother-in-law.

Monteagle immediately showed the letter to Robert Cecil, the Earl of Salisbury and Secretary of State. The Privy Council had the vaults beneath the Lords searched on the 4th November, first by the Earl of Suffolk and late the same evening by Sir Thomas Knyvett. The search discovered Guy Fawkes guarding the gunpowder, along with other explosive paraphernalia, and he was immediately arrested.

Upon hearing that the plot had failed, Robert Catesby and Thomas Wintour escaped to the Midlands where they met with the rest of their party in Warwickshire. They managed to travel amongst the houses of friends for three days before finally being captured in a bloody raid. Catesby, Percy and the two Wright brothers were killed, while a wounded Thomas Wintour and Ambrose Rokewood were taken away to London. Others were captured and all the conspirators, save for Tresham, were executed for their crimes.

miércoles, 26 de octubre de 2011


Have fun with these amusing halloween activities:
click here

jueves, 5 de mayo de 2011


When giving warnings in English, we often use:
  • Don't push so hard on that toy, or you might / will break it!
  • Watch out! Be careful!
  • Work hard otherwise you'll fail your exam.


The following are the most common structures when asking for information in English:

  • Could you tell me...?
  • Do you know...?
  • Do you happen to know...?
  • I'd like to know...
  • Could you find out...?
  • I'm interested in...
  • I'm looking for..

These two forms are used for asking for information on the telephone:

  • I'm calling to find out...
  • I'm calling about...


There are a number of formulas used when Giving Advice in English. Study the following constructions:


Formula Verb Form

I don't think you should work so hard.

Use 'I don't think you should' the base form of the verb in a statement.

You ought to work less.

Use 'You ought to' the base form of the verb in a statement.

You ought not to work so hard.

Use 'You ought not to' the base form of the verb in a statement.

If I were you,
If I were in your position,
If I were in your shoes,
I wouldn't work so hard.

Use 'If I were' 'you' OR 'in your position' OR 'your shoes' 'I wouldn't' OR 'I would' base form of the verb in a statement (A form of the conditional 2).

You had better work less.

Use 'You had better' (you'd better) the base form of the verb in a statement.

You shouldn't OR You should work less.

Use 'You should' OR 'You shouldn't' the base form of the verb in a statement.

Whatever you do, don't work so hard.

Use 'Whatever you do' the imperative.


There are a number of formulas used when making suggestions in English. Here are some of the most common:

  • Why don't you / we go to the movies tonight?
  • You / we could visit New York while you're / we're there.
  • Let's go to the travel agent's this afternoon to book our ticket.
  • What about asking your brother for help?
  • How about going to Hawaii for your vacation?
  • I suggest you / we take all the factors into consideration before we decide.