Gunpowder plot

Guy Fawkes at Coughton Court, Warwickshire

The Gunpowder Plot was a plan by a small group of young Roman Catholic extremists to blow up the House of Lords together with King James 1 and the whole of the Protestant government during the opening of Parliament on November 5 1605.

The ringleader was Robert Catesby (nephew of Thomas Throckmorton), several of the other plotters were also related to the Throckmorton family.

Guy Fawkes was chosen to prepare and ignite the 36 barrels of gunpowder they had hidden in the cellars underneath the House of Lords.

Early in the morning of November 5 the cellars were searched and Guy Fawkes was captured. He was taken away and tortured to reveal the names of the other plotters.

Sir Everard Digby had been chosen to plan the Midlands part of the plot, which was to kidnap the daughter of King James 1, the eight year old Princess Elizabeth. Since he needed a base in the Midlands Sir Everard leased Coughton Court and moved in, with his wife and two sons, in October 1605. Thomas Throckmorton and his family were living in one of their other properties.

Whilst making the final arrangements Sir Everard stayed at the Kings Head Inn in Dunchurch. At 8pm on November 5th 1605  news came to Dunchurch of the capture of Guy Fawkes and failure of the plot thus the kidnapping was abandoned and the plotters fled.

The Retreat

The plotters passed through Warwick at about midnight and then went to John Grant’s home at Norbrook House which was between Warwick and Stratford. Catesby then sent his servant Bates to Coughton Court to let Lady Digby know what had happened.

When Bates arrived at Coughton at about 3am he met Lady Digby in the Tower room.  Also present were Father Garnet, Father Tesimond, Nicholas Owen (the priest hole expert) and the Vaux sisters from Baddesley Clinton.

When they heard the news the men fled, Father Garnet and Nicholas Owen went into hiding at Hindlip House and Father Tessimond escaped to France.

The group at Norbrook House carried on to Huddington Hall where they stayed overnight. On the morning of 7th November they travelled to Hewell Grange and then in pouring rain on to Holbeach House in Kingswinford.

The Final Stand

On arrival at Holbeach House the plotters including Catesby, Percy and the Wright brothers and their gunpowder were soaking wet. In an attempt to dry out they spread the gunpowder in front of an open fire. 

The Sherriff and his men, who had been trailing the plotters, saw the resulting explosion and surrounded the House.  On the morning of November 8th there was a showdown. Four of the plotters were killed and the others captured. Catesby and Percy were together killed with one musket shot.
The plotters were all tried and convicted of treason and subsequently hung, drawn and quartered at the end of January 1606.


The country celebrated the defeat of the plot with bonfires which we continue to this day.