The meeting started at 1030 a.m with His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. in the Chair. Six apologies had been received .A warm welcome was extended to four new members namely Derek Mitchell; Brian Gallagher; John Pearson and Eric Smith. The Chairman warmed the audience up with an amusing and well received recollection about the late and abrasive Question Time host Sir Robin Day.
Under ” Initial Notices” John Taylor Programme Secretary advised the Forum that Frank Ellis had achieved a splendid 25 years membership with the Group and is on target and in form to achieve even more attendance records–well done Frank!! John also advised of a change of Programme for next week when Mr Terry Mike Williams will now be in attendance to give ” A Pictorial History of New Park “.
Making a welcome return to the Forum today was Mrs Jocelyn Brooks with, for the time of year, an appropriate talk title ” Gunpowder, Treason and Plot “. Whilst in some ways a familiar tale we were promised to be intrigued with tales of spying, shoot-outs, conspiracy, treachery, torture, gruesome deaths and religious intolerance!! We were not disappointed and the talk enhanced our understanding of those times and circumstances which have made such an indelible imprint and remains an annually remembered part of our history.
Jocelyn introduced us to the two main protagonists and painted comprehensive pen pictures of both the main players and also other involved characters. Firstly Guy Fawkes, born in 1570 in York , moves to Scotton at the age of eight and converts to Catholicism in 1891, becoming a zealot and changing his name to Guido. The second main character King James VI (Scotland) and Ist (England), born 1566 at Edinburgh Castle the son of Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley of Temple Newsam.
The background to the Gunpowder Plot centred around Protestant and Catholic tensions and the accession of James I following Queen Elizabeth I’s death in 1603. Whilst the nobility of England in the House of Lords was primarily Catholic, the House of Commons was 100% Protestant and with a strong puritanical leaning. King James, initially tolerant and prepared to relax restrictions on Catholics was pressured by the Commons to renege on his original agreements and stance. This would lead to the well documented Gunpowder Plot which included Guido Fawkes; Robert Catesby (leader); the Wintour and Wright brothers and Thomas Percy. Spy elements picked up on the Plot which was further compromised by an anonymous letter sent to Lord Monteagle. The initial plot scheduled for May 1605 was delayed due to an outbreak of plague (a delay which dampened the gunpowder’s effectiveness) and unwound during a search of the House of Lords at midnight on 4th November when Fawkes was arrested. Other conspirators fled but were pursued to Holbeche House Staffordshire where Catesby was one of those shot and killed. Other survivors including Fawkes suffered torture and after a trial faced a grisly death!!
The thwarting of the Plot was commemorated for many years afterwards evolving into the bonfire night of today. The talk was thoroughly enjoyed with questions and comments at its conclusion.
The Vote Of Thanks on behalf of 35 attendees was given by Gordon Richardson.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY