Guy Fawkes's Lantern
Tradescant Gallery, Gallery 27, First Floor


Focus on the Object

The Lantern

Guy Fawkes is said to have been carrying this lantern on his arrest in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament when the Gunpowder Plot was discovered in 1605. An intriguing object, it is made of sheet iron with a holder for a candle inside. It has a hinged door which was once fitted with a window made of horn through which the light would glow. The vent at the top would have let out the heat. This vent is attached to an inner cylinder which could be rotated in order to conceal the light, and therefore the user!

The lantern was originally given to the University of Oxford in 1641 by Robert Heywood of Brasenose College. He was son of the Justice of the Peace who arrested Guy Fawkes. It has been in the Museum since 1887 when a number of objects were transferred to the Ashmolean from the Bodleian Library’s collection of curiosities. Now much damaged, the lantern suffered years of handling by curious visitors while in the Bodleian.