These resources are are designed to support Key Stage 2 (KS2) Key Stage 3 (KS3) and Key Stage 4 (KS4) students learn about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot.
They contain stories, artefacts and locations connected to the event, as well as classroom activities.
The resources include:
- dramatised video of the story of the Gunpowder Plot
- classroom quiz
- discussion topics
- image bank
- background notes and articles
The Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes | Dramatised video
- What was Guy Fawkes’ role in the gunpowder plot?
- What was the name of the mastermind behind the plan?
- What was the name of the King who the plot attempted to blow up?
- How many barrels of gunpowder were hidden in the vault?
- On which date do people celebrate ‘Bonfire Night’?
- Guy Fawkes' role in the Gunpowder Plot was gunpowder expert. He would light the fuse.
- The Gunpowder Plot was the idea of Robert Catesby.
- The King at the time of the Gunpowder Plot was James I of England, VI of Scotland.
- 36 barrels of gunpowder were hidden in the vault under the Houses of Parliament.
- Bonfire Night is celebrated on the 5th November each year.
Guy Fawkes at the Tower of London | Behind the Scenes
Class discussion questions
Questions to prompt students' enquiry into the events of the Gunpowder Plot and its legacy.
These discussion points explore key facts from the Gunpowder Plot video.
- Why do you think King James I ordered people to celebrate 5th November each year after the plot failed?
- What do you think Robert Catesby meant by “The nature of the disease required so sharp a remedy.”
- Imagine you are Lord Monteagle and you received the anonymous letter. Would you report it? Why/why not?
- If the plot had succeeded, what might have happened next? What might the plotters do? How might this change Britain?
- Compare Fawkes signature before/after the interrogation. How are they different? What does this tell you?
Why do you think King James I ordered people to celebrate 5th November each year after the plot failed?
In January 1606 James I passed a thanksgiving act to celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot and his deliverance from danger. Called the Observance of 5 November Act 1605, it involved a special church service, bonfires and fireworks. It remained in force until 1859 although celebrations still take place today.
Prompt your students to think about why James I may want people to remember what happened to Guy Fawkes and the other plotters. James I may have wanted to deter any other acts of treason and wanted people to fear what could happen to them if they were to rebel against him.
What do you think Robert Catesby meant by “The nature of the disease required so sharp a remedy.”
Catesby might have been referring to the poor treatment of Catholic people (the disease) and that the only solution would be something drastic (sharp). Prompt students to consider his use of the words 'disease' and 'remedy'.
Imagine you are Lord Monteagle and you received the anonymous letter. Would you report it? Why/why not?
Prompt your students to think about if they would support the plot. Would they fight for religious freedom and blow up the King and Parliament? Remember, conditions for Catholic people had been extremely bad. Many people had been imprisoned and executed because of their faith.
Supporting the plotters:
Not reporting the letter would mean the plot might succeed. Conditions for Catholic people might improve. However, if the plot went ahead, it would cause the death of King James I and many innocent people. Do your students think this is justifiable?
Not supporting the plotters:
Reporting the letter could lead to the failure of the plot. Conditions for Catholic people could become worse than before. Additionally the plotters could be tortured and executed. Would your students want to support the plotter's fight for religious freedom?
If the plot had succeeded, what do you think would have happened next? What might the plotters do? How might this change Britain?
The plotters plans were to rally a Catholic uprising in the Midlands after the explosion. They planned to kidnap the King's young daughter, Princess Elizabeth, and used her as a figurehead for a new Catholic England.
Prompt your students to think about life in a new Catholic England. Would this have lead to religious equality? Would life be peaceful and fair for Catholics, Protestants and others?
Compare Fawkes signature before/after the interrogation. How are they different? What does this tell you?
See the image bank below. Guy Fawkes signed his name clearly before his interrogation. He was then questioned and tortured at the Tower of London. This might have involved the rack.
The rack was a horrible device, designed to inflict excruciating pain. A prisoner’s limbs would be pulled in opposing directions until the joints were dislocated or separated.
Prompt your students to describe the different signatures and reflect on the impact of Guy Fawkes' interrogation.
A selection of images from the Tower of London relating to the Gunpowder Plot. These images can be saved individually or the set can be downloaded as a PowerPoint file.
This graffiti was made by one of the plotters, Ambrose Rookwood.
Rookwood was imprisoned in the Tower before being taken to Westminster in January 1606 to be hanged, drawn and quartered for his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot. During his imprisonment, he carved his name into the wall of the Martin Tower, where it can still be seen today.
The King's House, looking South West across Tower Green, with The Shard beyond. The King's House is one of the few timber-framed domestic buildings that has survived the Great Fire of 1666, and in time it has become associated with infamous prisoners kept at the Tower.
Inside the Council Chamber, King’s House at the Tower of London. This is the location of Guy Fawkes’ interrogation.
Guy Fawkes signature before and after he was questioned about his part in the Gunpowder Plot.
This monument is in the Council Chamber of the King’s House at the Tower of London. It was created to commemorate the defeat of the Gunpowder Plot (created 1608). The Latin texts praise the King and his family, extoll the virtues of the Privy Councillors who foiled the Plot and condemn the wickedness of the plotters, whose names are listed.
However, the monument also had another, more sinister, purpose. The Council Chamber was designed as a room in which to interrogate prisoners and the monument acted as a warning that uncooperative prisoners could suffer the same grisly fate as the Gunpowder Plotters.
Close up of the Gunpowder Plot monument, showing the plotters’ names.
This is a carved stone portrait of King James the VI and I (1566-1625). It is located in the King’s House at the Tower of London. It shows King James VI and I in half relief wearing a wide brimmed hat with an ostrich feather and the Three Brothers jewel.
The date of the carving is not recorded, but it is possible it was created around the same time as a large marble monument that commemorated the defeat of the Gunpowder Plot (created 1608).
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.
Image Bank PowerPoint
A PowerPoint file containing the images. Please see the 'Notes' on each slide for background information.
Background information and deeper study
Resources to support advance students with deeper study or to provide background information to teachers.
An article about Guy Fawkes and the events that took place at the Tower of London.Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot
Facts and figures
An article from the Houses of Parliament providing facts and figures about the Gunpowder Plot.Gunpowder Plot facts and figures on Houses of Parliament
Hear from the experts
A 25 minute podcast with curator Alden Gregory that takes you behind-the-scenes into the King’s House at the Tower of London. This is the location where Guy Fawkes was interrogated.Listen to the podcast on Libsyn
Guy Fawkes' Lantern
See Guy Fawkes' lantern and discover more about this object on Teaching History with 100 Objects.See Guy Fawkes' Lantern on Teaching History with 100 Objects
They shall receive a terrible blow this parliament, and yet they shall not see who hurts them.
The Monteagle Letter
I wish to blow the Scottish King and all of his Scottish lords back to Scotland
Guy Fawkes declares in front of the King
The nature of the disease required so sharp a remedy.