The View From My Study 4th November

Did you know that there is a property in Dunchurch named Guy Fawkes House? This is not where the infamous conspirator once lived – in fact I doubt he ever went there – but instead it used to be called The Red Lion pub where, on the 4 November in 1605, a crowd of Gunpowder plotters were awaiting news of a successful explosion at the Houses of Parliament. The plotters had planned to ride from Dunchurch to nearby Coombe Abbey on hearing the news of the king’s death, to seize young Princess Elizabeth, proclaim her the new monarch (and then convert her to Catholicism.)

The problem, as we all know, was the plot failed when Guy Fawkes was discovered beneath parliament, alongside 36 barrels of gunpowder. As we marvel at the glorious fireworks and bonfire this evening, it is worth reminding ourselves of the story behind the festivities, especially as our locality plays such a significant role. The story goes that Robert Catesby, the brains behind the conspiracy, then rode from London to Dunchurch with his collaborators to announce the failure of their plans. Not long after, the ringleaders were caught and severely punished.

During half-term, my family and I braved the vaults of the Tower of London, where Guy Fawkes was tortured and interrogated, as there is a fabulous new exhibition telling the story of this important event in English history. Mixing live actors with virtual reality, it is a powerful learning experience with authentic scenes, smells and sounds that bring the past alive. I thoroughly recommend it.

We can’t always bring the past alive in every history lesson, but we did try on Wednesday evening to bring other things to life with our spooktacular Halloween walk for the boarders. Following the trail of a special serum, the children encountered a number of ghostly characters as they made their way through the woods and unfamiliar corridors. My thanks to my BG colleagues as well as students from Rugby School who gave up their evening to make themselves look ghastly, all in the name of entertainment.

This ‘collaboration’ between the two schools was very fitting since it is our school-wide theme this week. When everyone works together and trusts one another, it is amazing what can be achieved. And when the trust isn’t there, that’s when collaborations can go wrong. Just ask Guy Fawkes!

Gareth Jones, Headmaster

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