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Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Gunpowder Plot remembered
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¬†Television historian David Starkey is to provide the vital spark that ignites a series of events marking the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot at Coughton Court in Warwickshire this afternoon. An expert on the religious persecution of the period, the Channel 4 historian will be at the 500-year old house to launch its new interactive Gunpowder Plot exhibition as the special guest of Mrs Clare Throckmorton, whose ancestors led the Catholic plotters in their foiled attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. Four of the main plotters were associated with Coughton Court. It was the home of Ann Throckmorton, the mother of Robert Catesby, the mastermind behind the plot whose involvement has historically been overshadowed by that of Guy Fawkes. His co-conspirators, Sir Everard Digby and his wife Lady Digby were also living at Coughton at that time. This was not the first plot to overthrow the Protestant hierarchy launched by the Throckmortons at Coughton, but it was the last, and its discovery set back the Catholic cause in England for centuries to come. To mark the anniversary, the events underlying themes are conciliatory messages of peace to all faiths and beliefs. Along with Dr Starkey's presence on the day, the Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Vincent Nicholls will be celebrating Mass at Coughton's Catholic Church during the afternoon. "This is not a celebration of the Gunpowder Plot, but a commemoration of an event in this family's dark history that proves, if proof were needed, that fanaticism and violence will never be allowed to prevail. We all hope that we can learn the lessons of history," said Mrs Throckmorton. Dr Starkey will be giving a talk to visitors, meeting with local school children as part of their history projects and signing copies of his book on the Tudor period during a day that will see many of the historic characters come to life in the form of 'swashbuckling' re-enactments. Robert Catesby and Sir Everard Digby, played by character actors, will be showing members of the public torture equipment used to extract confessions out of suspects, while Lady Digby will re-enact her wait for news of the plot from her husband's servant who famously galloped to Coughton to inform her that the conspiracy was undone. Characters representing one of the Vaux sisters - two prominent Catholics who were in the house at the time and were later arrested and questioned before being released, and Father Garnet, Coughton's own 'illegal' priest, who would have made use of the house's priest holes, will also be present. Everyone is welcome to attend the day which commences at 2pm with David Starkey's lecture followed by the Mass celebrated by the Archbishop at 3.30pm. Entrance to both house and gardens is £8.60 (£4.30 for children) and £4.30 for gardens only where some of the re-enactments will take place. Some of the seasons other highlights include an historical re-enactment of the plot in June while July welcomes a lecture by Father Abbot of Douai Abbey which includes 'The Gunpowder Plot in Prints'. In October there is the 'York Waits: Gunpowder Plot Entertainers' with traditional Tudor Music while November 5th sees the gala dinner and firework extravaganza. Throughout the season school parties and visitors will see the 'Coughton and the Catholic Faith survival' as part of the educational package complete with a resource pack for teachers. Coughton Court, one of England's finest stately homes, is located just eight miles from Stratford-upon-Avon.
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