A priceless piece of history is to go on display in St Davids Cathedral – just in time for Guy Fawkes’ Day – that will give scholars and schoolchildren alike a direct link from today to the infamous Gunpowder Plot
After Lord Nelson’s death in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, his Bible and Prayer Book were brought back and given to the new St Katharine’s Church in Milford Haven in 1807 by Nelson’s elder brother, William, the Duke of Bronte.
At the time that the Prayer Book was published, it included a service for 5th November which had been added by Charles II in 1674 to give thanks to “Almighty God …for the miraculous and gracious… Deliverance of the King, and the Realm, from the most Traiterous and Bloudy intended Massacre by Gun-Powder”.
The service enshrined in law by the Thanksgiving Act and was used annually in churches on 5th November for nearly 200 years. The pages of the service are headed GUNPOWDER PLOT
They have been kept in St Katharine’s ever since and have clearly often been used in services over the intervening years. The Cathedral Library has assisted St Katharine’s in restoring the Bible and Prayer Book and they will soon be returned for display in St Katharine’s itself.
The Prayer Book also contains handwritten changes including updating the prayers to the sovereign from King George III to Queen Victoria. This shows that the Prayer Book was used regularly over the years by the vicar in Milford.
The Gunpowder Plot service was discontinued by Queen Victoria in 1859..