Fireworks are either loved or detested but what they do have is a fascinating history

The origins of fireworks can be traced back to 7th century China, where gunpowder was first used. Their pyrotechnic experts were of huge value to Chinese rulers who became the best war generals.

Gunpowder didn’t reach England until the 13th century after the Arabs gained knowledge of its existence and traded it throughout Europe. Its thought, through documentation that a monk named Roger Bacon was the first English man to use gunpowder, writing “you will get thunder and lightning if you know the trick”.

Fireworks didn’t become popular in the UK until much later, they are documented as being used at King Henry VII’s wedding in 1486 but it wasn’t until the reign of Elizabeth I that they became fashionable. The Queen herself loved them so much she appointed a ‘Fire Master’ who would oversee the Royal displays.

Shakespeare, who drew on life experiences for many of his plays, mentions fireworks in many of them which is indicative they were widely used throughout his lifetime—Shakespeare also gained a mention in last years blog regarding the gunpowder plot of 1605, and, of course, we celebrate Guy Fawkes these days with fireworks displays.

The significance of using fireworks for November 5th is that gunpowder was used in the failed plot to blow up parliament. Fireworks were not part of the celebrations until the 1659’s.

Please stay safe.

By Donna Siggers