Guy Fawkes night at Exeter Cathedral

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Guy Fawkes night at Exeter Cathedral

Even in the mid 19th century Protestant feeling and local pride combined in an annual Guy Fawkes night each November 5th. A huge fire was made just outside the Cathedral’s West Front, and the Cathedral Close was packed with spectators. This engraving is reproduced from a painting by F.F. White showing the occasion; smoke billows from the bonfire.

Writing in the years after 1900, Edith Prideaux recalled that the West Front of the Cathedral was too hot to touch when the fire raged, and that on mornings following bonfire night the cathedral authorities swept up fragments of medieval stonework which had broken from the fabric.

Despite all the dangers to life and property, the custom seems to have continued into the 1860s or 1870s.

Acknowledgments: RAM Museum