This is James I’s account of what happened on November 5th 1605 – the day of the Gunpowder Plot.


“To stop idle rumours and to be better able to solve the mystery, it was agreed to be put off until the afternoon before Parliament sat. This was upon the next Monday. (The Duke of Suffolk carried out the search). There, having seen all the lower rooms, he found in the vault under the upper House great stores of logs, faggots and coals. And, asking Whyneard, Keeper of the Wardrobe, to what use he had put those lower rooms and cellars, he told him that Thomas Percy had hired both the house and part of the cellar or vault under the same, and that the wood and coal therein was the said gentleman’s own supply.


Before his (the army commander’s) entry into the house, found Thomas Percy’s man (Guy Fawkes) standing outside, his clothes and boots on, at so dead a time of night, he decided to arrest him. Then he went and searched the house, where after he had made them turn over some of the billets and coals, he found one of the small barrels of powder, and afterwards all the rest to the number of thirty-six barrels great and small. And then, searching the fellow whom he had taken, found three matches, and all other tools wanted to blow up the powder, ready upon him.”


The “fellow” referred to was Guy (Guido) Fawkes. He was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Ominously for Fawkes, the Constable of the Tower received instructions from James to use all forms of torture to gain information from Fawkes – starting with the ‘lesser’ tortures and then, if unsuccessful in finding out the names of the other conspirators, moving on to the more extreme tortures. There is little doubt that Fawkes was a brave man, but even he could not withstand the pain inflicted by the rack. As James had urged the Tower’s Constable, “God speed your work.”