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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Coughton Court, Warwickshire

"In the cold early hours of November 6th, 1605 Thomas Bates, servant to Robert Catesby, rode over the moat bridge of Coughton Court and climbed the stairs to the Drawing Room on the first floor of the Gatehouse, with its wide view of the surrounding countryside.

The group of people he found there were all closely involved in the then illegal Catholic community and were all used to danger and the fear of discovery. But what they were about to hear meant peril beyond anything they had experienced, and was to change their lives forever.

There were two Jesuit priests - Father Henry Garnet, who had celebrated a clandestine mass for the Feast of All Saints in the house just a few days before, and Father Oswald Tesimond, the confessor to Robert Catesby. There was the family of Sir Everard Digby who had rented the house, Nicholas Owen, the famous priest-hide builder, and finally the Vaux sisters who aided Father Garnet, and who were related to the Throckmorton owners of the house, to Bates' master Robert Catesby, and to several of the men they were about to hear of.

Thomas Bates did not have good news. He had to tell those gathered there of the details of the Gunpowder Plot, the plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament, of its failure, and that the conspirators included Robert Catesby, Sir Everard Digby, and the Wintour brothers among others, were now all running for their lives.

Lady Digby was overcome with distress at the danger her young husband found himself in, while Father Garnet was angered at such an action that he had warned against in principle, and in failure could only mean extreme hardship for the already beleaguered Catholic community.

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