Guy Fawkes Is Spared, and England Is Restive





Deep in the bowels of the York Dungeon, visitors were being treated to a dramatic rendition of the horrific torture and bloodcurdling screams of Guy Fawkes, the city’s most famous deceased resident. Up at the cash register, Kate Stapylton, the duty manager, was talking about the health and safety regulations governing the attraction.

No wet floors. No obstructions in the passageways. Many well-lighted emergency exits. But even with her respect for such policies — “You don’t want anyone to hurt themselves,” she said — Ms. Stapylton said it was a bit much that, apparently because of health and safety rules, York would not be sponsoring a traditional fireworks celebration for Guy Fawkes Night on Monday.

“Personally, I think it’s a bit silly,” she said.

York, along with many other municipalities, has often been the scene of huge events — fireworks, bonfires, the burning of creepy effigies of Fawkes — to commemorate the failure of Fawkes’s plan to blow up Parliament and the king in 1605, a shocking moment in British history. But in the face of increasingly onerous regulations, none are taking place in the city this year.


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