Treason and plot

02 November 2006


THERE ARE special celebrations at Ashby St Ledgers, in Peterborough diocese, this year. It was once the home of the arch-conspirator Robert Catesby, and what is being commemorated is the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot.

“There is no evidence that Guy Fawkes himself ever came to Ashby,” says Jill O’Grady, a primary-school teacher, and one of the organisers.

Nevertheless, every year around 5 November the Church of the Blessed Virgin and St Leodegarius runs workshops for schoolchildren aged seven to 11 (“one lot were almost entirely Hindu”). Having shown the children round the church (“so many have never been in a church before”), the churchwarden dresses up as Guy Fawkes and tells them the story of the Plot.

That will happen again in November; but this weekend they are also having a festival day, during which the village will become Jacobean once more.

There will be the ancient crafts of bow-and-arrow- making, blacksmithing, and musical-instrument making; together with Jacobean singing and dancing, and a children’s play about Guy Fawkes. In the evening there will be an open-air classical concert.

All this, it is hoped, will help raise money towards the £140,000 needed to restore of the church. And, yes, they do have bonfires on Bonfire Night, and Guido Fawkes does get burned.

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