On the 5th of November 1605, a group of English Catholics attempted to blow up the House of Lords with 36 barrels of gunpowder. Catholics in England had faced heavy persecution from the British Crown after the split from the Roman Church by the British monarchy and the Church of England. The authorities were warned by a letter detailing the plot and Guy Fawkes, who was placed in charge of the explosives, was subsequently caught guarding the barrels in a cellar under the Palace of Westminster.
An illustration, titled ‘The Powder Plot’ from a bound edition of ‘The Book of Common Prayer’ [R1710], was recently discovered while being catalogued for our rare books collection. It depicts Guy Fawkes making his way down a dark narrow London street, presumably to commit the treasonous gun powder plot wile under the watchful, omnipotent eye of God. The accompanying caption quotes from the book of Psalms.
It has an accompanying prayer and thanksgiving for Guy Fawkes Day urging deliverance “[…] from the most traiterous and bloody intended Massacre by Gunpowder”.