Remember, Remember

Bacon’s Castle celebrates Guy Fawkes Day. 

The Gunpowder Plot isn’t exactly Virginia history, so you might not expect there to be much interest in a 17th century attempt to blow up the British Parliament. And yet, Guy Fawkes is such an enduring historical figure that it seems his name is celebrated and denigrated in equal measure around the globe. So it’s no surprise, actually, that on the anniversary of the event, which now bears Fawkes’ name, and in a state which has its own ties to some rebellious activity, there would be some throwback, even here. Each year, in recognition of Guy Fawkes Day, Preservation Virginia hosts a celebration of sorts at Bacon’s Castle in Surry, complete with the most ubiquitous symbol of the day, a bonfire.

Many people assume that Guy Fawkes Day traditions are meant to honor the conspirator’s anti-oppression ideals. In actuality, the bonfires associated with the event can be traced back to the night the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, Nov. 5, 1605, when British citizens celebrated the plot’s failure by lighting fires in the street and affirming anti-Catholic sentiments. This tradition of lighting bonfires has continued without so much politicism, but in fact, George Washington is known to have scolded his soldiers for participating in the festivities of Guy Fawkes Day when he himself was working to win the support of Catholic French-Canadians for the Patriot cause.

The Bacon’s Castle celebration, of course, is not interested in anti-Catholic ideology but rather in demonstrating the relationship between rebellions in Virginia and in Britain. Says Jennifer Hurst-Wender of Preservation Virginia, “When Bacon’s Castle was built in 1665, Virginia was still an English colony and would have celebrated this holiday. We are keeping this tradition. We [also] see Guy Fawkes Day as an opportunity to discuss British rebels.” In addition to the traditional bonfire-lighting, this year’s event will entertain the renowned rebel Robin Hood, portrayed by noted historian and actor Tony Rotheram. Additional programs throughout the day include a 17th-century cricket match, historical info sessions, weapons demonstrations, wine and beer tastings, and tours of Bacon’s Castle, so known because it was occupied as a fort by Virginians participating in Nathaniel Bacon’s own rebellion in 1676.

There is truly something for everyone, so regardless of your opinion on Guy Fawkes, this Preservation Virginia event will make sure that you remember, remember the fifth of November! General admission $8. PreservationVirginia.org

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum