History, art and culture

Discover Britain’s Traitors and Heroes with The London Pass

Bonfire night, on the fifth November, is a much loved tradition marked with huge bonfires and fireworks displays. Whether you’re old or young, it’s a great celebration to participate in and especially when you’re in London! Guy Fawkes Night celebrates the failure of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot and the demise of one of London’s most famous traitors. We decided to look into this theme of traitors and heroes and turns out, London was home to quite a few! TRAITORS Guy Fawkes Discover the tale of Guy Fawkes at the Tower of London. Having attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 during the Gunpowder Plot, Fawkes was imprisoned in the Tower of London prior to a public execution. The London Pass includes access to the public rooms and a tour of the White Tower – where it is thought that Fawkes was tortured for the names of others conspiring against King James I. Thomas Blood Colonel Thomas Blood is the traitor famous for the attempted heist of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London in 1671. Having murdered the Crown Jewels Keeper, Blood nearly succeeded until the alarm was raised and he was arrested while trying to make his exit. Mysteriously, Blood was later pardoned by the ‘jolly’ King Charles II. The Crown Jewels are on display at the Tower of London in an exhibition revealing their history and importance to the Monarchy. Cold War double agents Some of Britain’s most notorious traitors were Cold War Spies. The famous ‘spy ring’ dubbed the ‘Cambridge Five’, for example, betrayed the state by passing top secret information to the Soviet Union. Horrible Histories: Spies (until 4 January 2015) is an interactive family-friendly exhibition at the Imperial War Museum this winter which tells the real-life stories of double agents from this period through characters and entertaining instalments. The Secret War exhibition at the museum also explores the world of espionage from the First World War to the present day. HEROES Winston Churchill The Churchill War Rooms at the Imperial War Museum reveal the remarkable 90-year life of Winston Churchill, Britain’s war-time hero. Built as a shelter from the Blitz, the War Rooms were where Churchill made key decisions with his military and ministers. Learn about his life, and discover artefacts such as his Cabinet Chair, the Transatlantic Telephone Room (where he held crucial conversations with President Roosevelt), and the location of many war-time radio broadcasts which inspired and comforted the country. Sherlock Holmes During the 160th anniversary of his birth this year, The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die at the Museum of London celebrates the life of Britain’s greatest fictional hero, Sherlock Holmes. Open until 12 April 2015, the exhibition explores the public’s enduring fascination with the detective, how the story has translated onto the stage and screen, and the Victorian London setting of the novel through early film, photography, paintings and original artefacts. William Shakespeare William Shakespeare is the world’s greatest playwright and Britain’s literary hero. His life and works can be best discovered at the Globe Theatre – a reconstruction of the Elizabethan open-air playhouse where his plays were once performed. Tours explore the theatre and how the performances were staged. Special photography exhibition The Festival in Focus illustrates the art of performance at the theatre and behind-the-scenes stories. Britain’s Olympic Heroes Modern-day heroes include our 2012 Olympians – such as Chris Hoy, Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Bradley Wiggins. Entry to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is free, but London Pass holders will also enjoy free access to the 80-metre tall ArcelorMittal Orbit, Britain’s largest sculpture. On a viewing platform at the top of the structure, visitors will enjoy a bird’s eye view of the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre, where British Olympians competed for gold and where records were set and broken. DECIDE FOR YOURSELF... Oliver Cromwell Hero or villain? Oliver Cromwell is revered by some as the libertarian hero of the Civil War, but condemned by others as a traitorous dictator who played a key role in sentencing King Charles I to death. This winter the National Portrait Gallery is exhibiting a never-seen-before painting of Cromwell, and at the Banqueting House, where the King was hanged in 1649, visitors can find a masterpiece from Peter Paul Rubens. Banqueting House contains the only surviving in-situ ceiling painted by Rubens, and this was one of the last things Charles saw before his execution.

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