There’s a moral in here, somewhere, about deep storage!
Guy Fawkes was a popular man, ‘highly skilled in matters of war’, apparently. Which is why Thomas Wintour recruited him to join a conspiracy to kill James I and his government by blowing up Parliament House with gunpowder.
So far, so well-known by every schoolkid in the country.
What’s less well broadcast is the background detail. Along with Robert Catesby and John Wright, they leased the undercroft (damp, not ideal storage conditions) beneath the House of Lords and there they stockpiled 36 barrels of gunpowder. Fawkes’ role was to light the fuse… and run!
Unfortunately for them, the plague made one of its periodic appearances and delayed the opening of Parliament. The initial stockpile deteriorated (no climate control or dehumidifiers), and had to be urgently replaced – in itself, no mean feat.
Meanwhile, when you’re sitting on almost literally The Most Explosive Story Ever, it’s so difficult keeping every movement and every word secret. Somehow, someone found something out and sent an anonymous letter to Lord Monteagle, a Catholic peer who happened to be married to the brother-in-law of Francis Tresham, who was later uncovered as one of the conspirators. Did he send the letter warning Monteagle not to attend the opening of Parliament on 5 November? No matter, for it triggered a feverish search (a bit like a risk impact assessment) and Fawkes was discovered, virtually incubating the barrels of gunpowder.
He and seven of his co-conspirators were dragged off to the Tower of London before heading off for the chop the following January. Even though he was one of 13 plotters, Fawkes is the one who captured the public’s imagination, remained notorious.
The fireworks we all ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over every year are a direct result of an Act of Parliament that designated each 5 November as a day of celebration and thanksgiving for parliament’s deliverance from annihilation – to be marked by lighting large bonfires.
Here at Restore we’re very good at storage. We’ll keep your precious documents and objects under the correct conditions, in perpetuity, if you need us to. Although we draw the line at gunpowder. Sorry.
If you would like to find out more about our exceptional near and deep storage facilities, including the mines at Monkton Farleigh in Wiltshire that were actually used to store ammunition during the Second World War, call us on 0333 222 6140.