Thursday, 4 November 2010

Remember, remember the Fifth of November (or else)

Various web sites, ranging in authoritativeness from The Big Site of Amazing Facts to BBC Cambridgeshire, state that it was illegal in England, until 1959, NOT to celebrate the anniversary of Guy Fawkes' arrest. I've done a little light googling and seen this alleged fact repeated quite a few times, but I haven't been able to find any more concrete details about this law. Further exhaustive research (asking my mum if she'd ever heard of such a thing) drew a blank, so I've posted a query on one of QI's talk forums to see whether anybody there knows anything about it.

If this turns out to be a fact, not just a piece of General Ignorance, I'm intrigued - what a bizarre law. What would have constituted a "celebration" for the purposes of staying on the right side of the law? It must have been a bugger to enforce.

Guy Fawkes was educated at St. Peters School in York, a private school that exists to this day and apparently has a policy of not celebrating the arrest and execution of an "old boy" - I wonder whether the school ever ended up on the wrong side of the law. More info to follow, if I find it.