Monday, 4 November 2013

Guy Fawkes and 5 resources for learning about the Stewarts

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.

Tomorrow is Guy Fawkes' Night; a strange festival, peculiar to the UK and celebrating the foiling of a plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. 

Like most people here, we like to celebrate on or around with a bonfire and fireworks. There are public displays and it is definitely a night for the cats to be inside. This year, Younger Daughter has been learning about the Stewart monarchs so Guy Fawkes' Night fits in especially well.
Fireworks art with black on white and plenty of flicked paint!

It is more difficult to find resources to cover this period in history than the Tudors. This is what we have been using.
  • Our Island Story-an old (1905) but republished history by H.E. Marshall. No pictures but told as a story and used as the background in our home education group. This book is available in audio format although I haven't listened to this and can't comment on the quality.
  • Ladybird history books, again, these are older books but have a picture on each page. We have used James I and the Gunpowder plot, The Pilgrim Fathers and Oliver Cromwell. These books are out of print but available cheaply secondhand.
  • R.J. Unstead was a primary school headmaster after the Second World War. He wrote history books aimed at primary aged children (5-11). We used the Stewart part of Looking at history. It covers social history as well as the main events. Unstead is, in my opinion, unfair to the Puritans but this is a point for discussion rather than a reason to avoid the book. A major plus of Unstead is that he uses plentiful quotes from Samuel Pepys which is an easy way to introduce primary and secondary sources. Again, this is only available second hand. 
  • The Story of the World  volume 2-Early Modern Times, by Susan Wise Bauer, fits this period in English History into world history, in a very accessible way. It has been useful to read about the Pilgrim Fathers after reading about other explorations and territorial claims on various parts of the New World. 
  • Squanto-friend of the Pilgrims by Robert Clyde Bulla deals with the history of the Pilgrim Fathers in story form.  
Please add further suggestions in the comments. Some historical fiction suitable for younger children would be particularly useful.


  1. We tie our November the 5th celebrations in with a discussion and giving of thanks for the King James Bible, translated a few years after, and the providence of God that the plot was foiled and King James' life was spared.

    1. Kirsty, you are so right. I'm feeling, rightly, rebuked about leaving out this most important aspect, thank you. There is a free resource for children, from the Trinitarian Bible Society, that we used, a couple of years ago, about the King James Bible. It is worth looking at if you haven't seen it before.

  2. So funny that I never connected Guy Fawkes and the King James Bible! Thanks for making that link for us.

    You might also want to check out Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples...and Charles Dickens wrote a history of Britain too.

    1. Thank you-I've never read Churchill's history although I've seen it around several times. I must have a read of it. Chartwell, his home, isn't far from here and is a fascinating place to visit if you are ever in England-you could come to see us at the same time!