Guy Fawkes: The Man Behind the Plot


Guy Fawkes is one of the most infamous characters in British history. This May Guy Fawkes returns in a thrilling new immersive experience in Tower Vaults at the Tower of London. But who was the man behind the mask?

© Historic Royal Palaces  Black and white stylised illustration of Guy Fawkes by illustrator Iain McIntosh, originally created for graphic interpretation panels at the Tower in 2019-2020.

© Historic Royal Palaces Black and white stylised illustration of Guy Fawkes by illustrator Iain McIntosh, originally created for graphic interpretation panels at the Tower in 2019-2020.

Guy 'Guido' Fawkes: Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

Guy Fawkes, born in York in 1570, is one of the most infamous faces behind the plot to assassinate King James I on 5 November 1605. But who was the real Guy and why did he take part in one of the most daring plots in British history?

Born into a Protestant family, Guy converted to Catholicism when his mother remarried into a Catholic family. In 1591, with a passion for his new religion and a taste for adventure, Guy Fawkes headed to Spain to fight against Protestant Dutch Reformers in the Eight Years War.

In Spain, Guy (now known as Guido Fawkes) met Thomas Winter, an Englishman scouting Spain for Catholic conspirators to bring back to England with him. Brave, skilful and military trained, Guy was the perfect fit for Thomas and the two men travelled back to England together in 1604.

Back in England, the conspirators met for the first time. Led by Robert Catesby, a plot to assassinate Protestant King James I began to take shape. With the practice of Catholicism a crime in England - priests caught giving mass were tortured and executed - the Catholic conspirators wanted the King gone and his daughter Princess Elizabeth on the throne.

On the night of 5 November 1605 Guy Fawkes, trained in explosives from his days in the Spanish army, headed to the cellars under the Houses of Parliament. Thanks to an anonymous letter the King was warned to not attend Parliament that day, and the cellars were searched. Guy was discovered with a lamp, matches, a 36 barrels of poorly concealed gunpowder.

The plot was foiled and Guy was arrested on the spot. Transported to the Tower of London, his gruelling interrogation began. Over five separate interrogations, Guy gave up the names of his fellow conspirators and they were all captured.

On January 27th 1606, the conspirators were taken by barge from the Tower of London to Westminster Hall, where they sat trial for high treason.

Although sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered, on 31st January 1606, Guy Fawkes fell from the hangman's scaffold, breaking his neck and dying instantly - some say he jumped to avoid the agony of further torture.

According to a contemporary account, "He made no speech, but with his crosses and idle ceremonies made his end upon the gallows and the block, to the great joy of all the beholders that the land was ended of so wicked a villainy."

Guy Fawkes in 10 dates :

1570 - Born in York to a Protestant family

1570s - Converts to Catholicism

1591 - Travels to Catholic Spain to fight in the Eight Years War

1604 - Meets Thomas Wintour, an Englishman scouting Spain for Catholic conspirators

1604 - Travels back to England and meets the rest of the conspirators

1605 - The conspirators plot to blow up Parliament on 5 November

5 November 1605 - The plot is foiled when Guy Fawkes is discovered in the cellars of Parliament

27 January 1606 - The plotters are tried for high treason

31 January 1606 - Guy Fawkes is executed

6 May 2022 - Guy Fawkes returns in a thrilling new immersive experience

© Historic Royal Palaces Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot Conspirators, 1605 The illustration shows: Thomas Bates (1567-1606), Robert Catesby (1573-1605), Guy Fawkes (1570-1606), Thomas Percy (1560-1605), Robert Winter (1568-1606), Thomas Winter (1572-1606), Christopher Wright (1570?-1605) and John Wright (1568?-1605)  From 'Old and New London: A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places', Vol II by Walter Thornbury, 1872-8

© Historic Royal Palaces Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot Conspirators, 1605 The illustration shows: Thomas Bates (1567-1606), Robert Catesby (1573-1605), Guy Fawkes (1570-1606), Thomas Percy (1560-1605), Robert Winter (1568-1606), Thomas Winter (1572-1606), Christopher Wright (1570?-1605) and John Wright (1568?-1605) From 'Old and New London: A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places', Vol II by Walter Thornbury, 1872-8

The Gunpowder Plot - step inside history's most daring conspiracy

The Gunpowder Plot place's you at the heart of history's more infamous conspiracy. Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators have been brought back to life in a brand new immersive experience by Layered Reality and Historic Royal Palaces.

Through a combination of the latest performance technology, live actors, and movie quality sets, you'll be completely immersed in the world of the plotters. Make a daring escape from the Tower, sail down the Thames towards the Houses of Parliament and uncover a secret safe house. You aren't just witnessing history, it happens to you. When faced with a crucial decision, who do you trust? A life hangs in the balance.