Gunpowder, Treason & Plot

The 5th of November marks Bonfire Night. The annual event celebrates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot, when a team of conspirators were stopped from blowing up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. Guy Fawkes was the group’s explosives expert. On the morning of 5th November, it was him who was caught in a cellar underneath the Houses of Parliament preparing to light the fuse to the explosives intended to blow up the building and kill King James I.

Here’s 10 Interesting Facts about Bonfire Night:

1. Up until 1959 it was illegal not to celebrate bonfire night (That’s a mere 56 years ago!)

2. Even today, before a new session is opened in Parliament, the Yeoman of the Guard will ceremoniously search the basement.


Yeoman of the Guard – State Opening of Parliament

3. In 2002, Guy Fawkes was named as the 30th greatest Briton in a BBC poll.

4.The cellar that Fawkes tried to blow up no longer exists. It was destroyed in a fire in 1834 that devastated the medieval Houses of Parliament.


A cellar underneath the Houses of Parliament in 1605

5. When Fawkes was captured he gave his name as John Johnson.

6. Queen Elizabeth I loved fireworks so much she created a ‘Fire Master of England’ title.

7. The very first fireworks display in England took place at the wedding of Henry VII in 1486.

8. You see the explosion of a firework before hearing it because sound travels at 761mph, but light travels at 671,000,000mph.

Fireworks over Palace of Westminster

Bonfire Night Fireworks over Palace of Westminster

9. Fireworks were invented by a mistake in a kitchen. They were invented in the 10th century by a Chinese cook who accidentally combined 3 everyday kitchen ingredients. The cook then realized that burning the concoction in a hollow shoot of bamboo led to some explosive results.

10. One of the most popular Bonfire Night treats is the toffee apple, which was also invented by accident when candy-maker William W. Kolb was creating a red Christmas themed concoction and dropped in an apple by mistake. The results were delicious!


Toffee Apples

Click here if you’d like to read more about the history of Bonfire Night and see below for our favorite British Bonfire Night recipes.

Top 5 British Recipes for Bonfire Night

1. Toffee apple
2. Bonfire Toffee
3. Mulled Wine
4. Parkin
5. Chilli & Rice

Th Join us on November 3rd (yes we’re celebrating on the 3rd) at the Barleycorn as we enjoy some extended happy hour, complimentary appetizers and the best fireworks that we can legally enjoy in New York (AKA sparklers!)


Annual Beneficiary Tea Party

On October 24, the Society hosted its fifth annual Shadwell Beneficiary Tea Party thanks to a bequest from the late Wendy Shadwell who wanted to encourage social interaction and foster friendship between beneficiaries confined to their homes.

edit-6The event took place at The House of the Redeemer on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and guests enjoyed afternoon tea with musical entertainment provided by Concerts In Motion. The program also included a reading of a memoir written by St. George’s beneficiary, Tina Smith, recounting her experiences in a London orphanage during World War II.


The gathering provided a welcome opportunity for some of the Society’s beneficiaries to enjoy a social outing as part of an ongoing initiative to encourage social activity between lonely and housebound seniors to enhance their quality of life.



We asked some of the attendees what St. George’s Society’s support means to them:


“St. George’s Society came to my rescue at a time in my life when I felt “lost” – not enough money to find a place to live and no savings. I am blessed to be part of this wonderful Society and send thanks every day to all.” Murial C. 

 “I found out about St. George’s Society when I became ill with cancer. I had no relatives or family in New York and no insurance. This Society has been helping me for over 15 years and I wish there were more organizations like this, helping people in need like I was.” Amoy L.

“St. George’s helps a lot of people that are really in need. I, for one, am very thankful that I receive help from them, it helps me so much. I really look forward to the tea party & enjoy attending every year.” Lester H.


November Membership Perks

This month we have discounted theater tickets for The Gallery Players production of the classic farce The 39 Steps and the American Premeire of Poison with Origin Theatre. Plus, members receive further discounts to a variety of events including the Choral Society’s annual Holiday concert, The Pipes of Christmas and a Reception with The English-Speaking Union, welcoming Her Majesty’s Consul General in New York, Antonia Romeo.

To request discount codes or for more information about how to redeem any of the offers below, please email

The 39 Steps

39-stepsGallery Players of Park Slope invites the members of St. George’s Society and their guests to join them for The 39 Steps. A comic thriller sure to delight! Part spy story, part romance, part homage to music hall and Alfred Hitchcock, The 39 Steps is a fun romp through London and the Highlands of Scotland.

This production is conceived of as a troupe of actors who have been left and are trying to put on a show with only found objects. Full of references to both Hitchcock, English Music Hall and the American Musical theater, all will enjoy its mad-cap pace and suspenseful end.

Gallery Players is in its 50th season and is Brooklyn’s premier Off-Off Broadway theater. The 39 Steps was the winner of the 2007 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and the 2008 Tony Award for Best Lighting and Best Sound Design.

Date: Oct 29 – Nov 13,
Venue: 199 14th St. Brooklyn, NY
Special Offer: Tickets from $18 (normally $25)

Reception hosted by The English-Speaking Union
Honoring & Welcoming the new British Consul General in New York


Antonia Romeo was appointed Her Majesty’s Consul General in New York and Director-General Economic and Commercial Affairs USA in July 2016. She is responsible for promoting the UK’s economic profile, foreign policy, and national security priorities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut’s Fairfield County. In addition, Antonia directs the economic, business and prosperity work of the UK Government across the whole of the United States, including oversight of the North American operations of the Department for International Trade (DIT), the foreign commercial arm of the UK Government. She is also Her Majesty’s Government’s Special Envoy to the US technology companies.

Date: Nov 3, 5:30 pm

Venue: The English-Speaking Union, 144 East 39th Street
Special Offer: Tickets from $25 (normally $35)


poisonIn Poison words are used to conceal the truth and maintain boundaries as a couple meet again after a painful separation. Try as they might to avoid speaking about what happened and what has happened since, their fragility and doubt seep in through the cracks and wounds are opened anew.

The international smash hit has been seen in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Chinese, Russian, Danish, Swedish and now into English. It was staged all over continental Europe, Russia, South America and Mexico and will be premiered in China and South Africa in the coming year.

Date: Nov 10 – Dec 11

Venue: The Beckett Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street

Special Offer: Tickets from $35 (normally $65)

Choral Society’s 2016 Holiday Concert 

choral-societyThe Choral Society and Orchestra of Grace Church in New York, under the direction of John Maclay, will present its annual Holiday Concert.

This year, the program features works by Mozart, Palestrina, Handel and Tavener, and the group’s enduringly packed-to-the-rafters audience carol sing with organ.  The seldom-heard “Missa longa” (KV 262) (which is not long at all!) is the most accomplished of Mozart’s Salzburg masses.

Date: Dec 2, 8:00 pm & Dec 3, 3:00pm
Venue: Grace Church, Broadway & 10th Street
Special Offer: Tickets from $25 (normally $30)

Victoria Wood: As Seen in The Big Apple

vicwood2016hiA one-off Comedy tribute event to celebrate one of Britain’s favourite comedians, Victoria Wood, who died unexpectedly in the Spring. The OPTimistiks’ production, directed by Origin Theatre Company’s George C Heslin, will feature live stagings of favourite characters, sketches & scenes from the multi-award winning actor, comedian, musician & writer. Includes Acorn Antiques, Two Soups, Kimberley & the Ballad of Barry & Freda [aka the ‘Can’t Do It’ song]. All proceeds to Victoria’s nominated charity, Jessie’s Fund, to provide musical therapy for seriously ill children.

Date: Dec 3, 3:00 pm
Venue: 158 West 72nd Street
Special Offer: Tickets from $20 – with 2 drink minimum (normally $30)

The Pipes of Christmas 


From the bold sounds of the pipes and drums, and the harmonious blending of brass, strings and percussion, to the poetic and lyrical words that complement them, The Pipes of Christmas is a festival for the soul. The concert features the music of Christmas accompanied by a selection of readings taken from the Celtic literature of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.


Date: Dec 17th, 2:00 pm & 7:00pm
Venue: Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, 921Madison Avenue
Special Offer: $10 off general admission tickets (book before Dec 1)



Member Spotlight Melissa Gibbs

234Melissa M. Gibbs
Chair, Beneficiary Committee
Life Member

Joined: 2002
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Upper West Side

What brought you to New York? I have lived for over fifty years on West 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue. I came to NYC when my family’s business decided to open a sales office for one of their divisions here.

What do you enjoy about being a member of St. George’s Society? It has been amazing to see the growth of St George’s Society from the days when the office was at General Seminary. I love being a part of the Beneficiaries Committee. The Committee and the Society’s social workers, Mary and Julie, are all so amazing in the care and concern that they take with the people that we serve to help make their lives as full and full-filled as possible.

What is your favourite New York place or pastime? I do not own a television as my passion is for live performing arts, especially theater, opera, ballet and classical music – we are out most nights of the week doing one or another. I love to volunteer and among other things, I volunteer several days a week at Roosevelt Hospital. I adore travel and read voraciously. A wonderfully talented Romanian classical pianist, Matei Varga, has lived with me and our three rescue cats (Poopster, Sister Susie and Preston) for ten years.


The History of Bonfire Night

“Remember remember the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot. We see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot!”

guy_fawkesThe story of Guy Fawkes and his foiled plot to blow up Parliament and assassinate the Protestant King James I is well known, but some of the historical facts sometimes go untold. Read on to learn about the history of Bonfire Night, Guy Fawkes and how we as Brits celebrate.

The gunpowder plot was planned for the State Opening of Parliament in 1605 when King James I would be in attendance. Guy Fawkes is the most well-known criminal of the attack however, he worked alongside 13 others and their leader was a man called Robert Catesby. The catholic group hatched the plot as they grew increasingly frustrated with their treatment by the law of the land at the time. After 45 years of persecution by Queen Elizabeth I, King James I was expected to be lenient on those practicing the Catholic religion, however, this was not to be.

list-political-conspiracies-guy-fawkes-173287905-hGuy Fawkes was an explosives expert and had been entrusted by his co-conspirators with the task of deploying the 36 barrels of gunpowder. However, he was caught and arrested as he guarded the explosives that lay beneath the House of Lords. The plot was rumbled when one of the co-conspirators, thought to be Francis Tresham, wrote to Lord Moteagle (William Parker) his brother-in-law, who worked in parliament with a warning to stay away from the Opening of State on the 5th of November.

guy-fawkes-signature-confession-tortureOnce taken to the Tower of London, Fawkes was tortured until he gave up his counterparts and then sentenced to a traitor’s death of hanging. In true rebel nature, Fawkes jumped from the gallows breaking his own neck and avoiding the horror of being cut down while still alive. He was drawn and quartered with his remains being sent to the four corners of the kingdom as a warning to others.
After Fawkes’ arrest on November 5th, the public celebrated the King’s survival by lighting bonfires, with Parliament passing the ‘Observance of 5th November Act’ aka ‘Thanksgiving Act’ in January 1606. The act was proposed by Puritan member, Edward Montagu who suggested that the King had been afforded a type of ‘divine intervention’ which deserved official recognition of thanksgiving. He also made attendance at church mandatory on this date and a new form of service was added to the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer.

pennyfortheguyIn modern day the occasion’s religious ties are infrequently practiced. However, the celebrations have continued to bring together friends, families and communities who huddle round the blazing fires, enjoying seasonal food and watching spectacular firework displays. We still share the tradition of burning effigies of Guy Fawkes and in the past, children would make their own Guy Fawkes dummies and busk on the streets, asking “Penny for the Guy”.

St. George’s Society celebrates Bonfire Night every year and you can join us on November 3rd (yes we’re celebrating on the 3rd) at the Barleycorn as we enjoy extended happy hour, complimentary appetizers and the best fireworks that we can legally enjoy in New York (AKA sparklers!)


October Membership Perks

This month’s perks include discounted tickets to The New York Red Bulls as well as lectures with The Royal Oak Foundation and The English-Speaking Union.

To request discount codes or for more information about how to redeem any of the offers below, please email

New York’s Annual Festival of Irish Theater

wilde-page-001Welcome to the witty, complex and contradictory world of Oscar Wilde in this performed anthology of some of his best loved works. Originally devised for the Wilde Weekend in Enniskillen, the Irish town where Oscar went to school, this performance has been reinvented for the historic environment of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where Oscar, his wife Constance and his lover Bosie will share the stage with unforgettable characters such as Lord and Lady Windermere, Jack and Algernon, Lady Bracknell and Dorian Gray. Is it life or is it art? Come and decide for yourself.

Date: Sep 24 – Oct 2

Venue: American Academy of Dramatic Arts – 120 Madison Ave

Special Offer: $15 tickets (regularly $20)

A third off tickets to the 2016 Irish Screen America Film Festival



The 2016 Irish Screen America Film Festival opens on Friday Sep 30th with the New York Premiere of Queen Of Ireland, Ireland’s national treasure and accidental activist Miss Pant Bliss will attend the Opening Night Screening Co-Presented with Glucksman Ireland House NYU, and Irish Arts Center. The witty incisive documentary follows Miss Bliss during the lead up to the historic same- sex marriage referendum in Ireland (Q & A with Director Conor Horgan to follow the screening). Irish stars Seana Kerslake and Nika McGuigan will attend the World Premiere of Irish TV’s brand new hit comedy series Can’t Cope,Won’t Cope (Q&A with Director Cathy Brady to follow). Also showing over the three-day festival will be the best of Irish Shorts, A shorts showcase of Irish Filmmaking talent in NYC , and the hit Irish films Tiger Raid (Tribeca) and Mammal (Sundance). The annual festival showcases the best in contemporary Irish media with screenings,industry panels, discussions and master classes in the two largest cities for the entertainment industry in the United States – New York and Los Angeles.

Date: Sep 30 – Oct 2

Venue: NYU’S Cantor Film Centre

Special Offer: $10 tickets (regularly $15)

 Les Parisiennes: Women in Wartime Paris 1939-1949

Sebba Les Parisiennes_cover

Based on her new book, Les Parisiennes: How the Women of Paris Lived, Loved, and Died Under Nazi Occupation, best-selling author Anne Sebba explores the fascinating lives of these women, using first-hand accounts and letters, revealing how these women came to terms with their tumultuous experiences during the war and after the Liberation.

Date: Oct 19, 6:15 pm

Venue: The General Society Library, 20 West 44th Street

Special Offer: $30 member tickets (regularly $40)

Churchill’s Legacy: Two Speeches to Save the World

Watson Churchill LegacyInspired by his new book, Churchill’s Legacy: Two Speeches to Save the World (Bloomsbury 2016), Lord Watson will explain how Churchill’s “iron curtain” announced the beginning of the Cold War and changed the way the Western world viewed communism. He will describe the resulting controversy and explain how these speeches were integral to the emergence of NATO and the Marshall plan, committing the U.S. to Europe’s economic recovery and foreshadowing the EU today.

Date: Oct 26, 6:15 pm

Venue: The General Society Library, 20 West 44th Street

Special Offer: $30 member tickets (regularly $40)

Still time to join in the action with our St. George’s Promo code new_york_red_bulls

St. George’s Society of New York has teamed up with the New York Red Bulls for the 2016 season to provide all  members and their families with a special ticket offer! See the last game of the season vs. Columbus Crew on 16 October.


Date: Oct 16, 3:00 pm

Venue: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ

Special Offer: Tickets from $23

Lights, Camera, Madison Avenue: The Golden Age of Advertising.

51kicuyqnbl-_sx331_bo1204203200_An inside look at the production of 20th-century television commercials begins with a review of advertising’s beginning going through the 1960’s and early 1970’s. The author and speaker, a career “Mad Man”, recounts lightheartedly his experiences on commercial productions – both live and film- in theaters and studios in New York City. at LBJ’s ranch, on The White House lawn, along Rome’s Appian Way, in Lady Astor’s dining room and on the Tryall Golf Course in Jamaica, month other places. The technical (and people) challenges involved in producing high-end commercials for major corporations are given in often funny details.

Date: Oct 20, 6:30 pm

Venue: The English-Speaking Union, 144 East 39th Street
Special Offer: Tickets from $20



25 Scholarships Awarded

sana-batoolSt. George’s Society’s Scholarship Committee met in July to review applications for financial assistance from students entering their final year at Lehman College (part of CUNY). Thanks to funds raised at the English Ball the Committee awarded 25 scholarships totaling $100,000.

This year’s scholars come from the United Kingdom and a number of Commonwealth countries including Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Nigeria and Pakistan and are majoring in a variety of degrees, such as Biology, Mathematics, Nursing, Accounting, Health Services Administration and Psychology.

One example is Sana from Pakistan, whose ambition is to become a cardiologist. Sana sought asylum in the U.S. in 2013 when her father decided it was not safe for her family to stay in Quetta. Two years earlier a deadly suicide bomb attack had occurred a block away from their home which left a great number of the community dead and injured.

Sana is now pursuing a chemistry major with a specialization in biochemistry at Lehman College, something that seemed impossible to her just a couple of years ago. Sana commutes four hours each day to college and also volunteers at a biochemistry laboratory so does not have time to do a part-time job to cover her educational expenses.

“I now have the opportunity to become the first person in my family to attend college Sana said, “I will continue to apply the same diligence to the rest of my collegiate studies as I have to this point, making education and service to others my top priority.”

Since the program began in 2008, St. George’s Society has awarded 249 scholarships totaling over $720,000 and in 2013 the Society became Lehman College’s largest benefactor. The Society plans to expand the program to include Hunter College, also in the CUNY system.

If you’d like to donate to the St. George’s Society Scholarship fund please click here.

Thank you for your support!

Member Spotlight Maria-Cristina Necula

mariacristina-necula_sept2016Maria-Cristina Necula
Director of Alumni Relations
Lehman College, CUNY
Individual Member

Joined: 2012
Bucharest, Romania
White Plains, NY

What brought you to New York? My father escaped from Romania, which, at the time, was under a totalitarian regime behind the Iron Curtain, and after tremendous efforts, he succeeded in bringing my mother and me to New York, one of the greatest cities in the world. I was 12 when I arrived here, and despite, in later years, having lived in Vienna and briefly in Paris, the Big Apple remains my absolute favorite city.

What do you enjoy about being a member of St. George’s Society?  I enjoy the wonderful variety of events, and the opportunities to meet fascinating and interesting people. As the Director of Alumni Relations at Lehman College, I also love collaborating with the St. George’s Society team, especially Anna Titley, in organizing joint events for Lehman students: the St. George’s Society Scholarship recipients who benefit from the generosity of the Society.

What is your favorite New York place or pastime?  The Metropolitan Opera is my top favorite, but I am definitely predisposed towards it, because I was trained as a classical singer and have been immersed in the opera world since I was 10, performing and writing about opera. I also love the New York City museums: one of my favorites is the Neue Galerie for early 20th century German and Austrian Art; it is one of the many special jewels in the multicultural crown of Manhattan.


The British Bash is Back!

With just 9 weeks to go until the British Bash on December 1st, it’s time to delve into the archives and celebrate #FlashbackFriday reliving some unforgettable “Best of British” memories.

The Two Robbies

Our 2015 hosts, NBC Sports’ Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe kept our guests (and each other) entertained all night!robbies-collage

One for you, one for me… and another one for me!

Over the past 5 years, we’ve had a fantastic selection of “Best of British” auction items, from balls signed by David Beckham to ball gown dresses from top British designers. Guests can snap up Christmas gifts for everyone (including themselves …‘tis the season and all that!)auction

Photo Booth Moments

Move over selfie stick! Last year’s photo booth went down a storm with guests getting pouty with Soap & Glory’s Lip

Awards, Awards, Awards

2015 honoree, Sir Steve Redgrave pictured with St. George’s Society President, Richard Sexton MBE (seconds before this photo was taken, our band had just kick-started the evening’s live music and Sir Steve asked Rich to join him for a boogie!)awards

Live Music

Back by popular demand… our favorite band, Rhythm Collective, will entertain guests all night long with “Best of British” party anthems.rhythm-collective

What’s live music without dancing?

It’s pretty much British Bash law that guests take over the dancefloor and show us their best moves!dancing

That time we had the “Best of British” cars parked on 42nd street!

Sponsor Jaguar Land Rover brought along their latest models to the British Bash in 2013. If you’re interested in sponsoring the 2016 British Bash click

Bowled over, year after year…

For five years our bowler hats have made an appearance at the British Bash, they are now – literally – part of the furniture (see bowler hat centerpiece!)


Tickets for the 2016 GEORGE British Bash are on sale now and selling fast so what are you waiting for? Buy your tickets here.

Relive more British Bash memories on YouTube!



Member Spotlight Jo Harvey

Jo HarveyJo Harvey
Director, Corporate & Alumni Relations
Mountbatten Institute

Patron Member
Joined: 2011
Born: Oxford, UK
Lives: Chinatown, Manhattan

What brought you to New York? In 1994 I was lucky to be offered a job in New York at the Mountbatten Institute. Since then I have had the privilege of working with host organizations (including St George’s Society of NY!)  keen to develop young global talent, and with amazing young graduates who have the drive, ambition and desire to develop themselves as young globally minded professionals. It is an honor to be part of an organization that furthers the vision of Senator Fulbright through the J-1 visa program, who believed that ‘Educational Exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations’. That and the age old reason of chasing a boy!  My love of NY has lasted – the boy not!!

What do you enjoy about being a member of St. George’s Society?  What I really enjoy about being a member of the St George’s Society are all the amazing people that I have met through the GEORGE and St George’s events. Not least the wonderful people at the St George’s Society who work tirelessly to put on events to bring people together, and help the beneficiaries of the charity.  To be able to contribute to helping those less fortunate while attending fun events make it the perfect combination!

What is your favourite New York place or pastime? Change is a constant and NY is the perfect example of that!  What I love most about NY is the constant discovery of new places, ideas and people.  I love music and in my early years here in NY Summerstage in Central Park was a frequent haunt, then Prospect Park and other smaller parks in the city that often put on amazing artists as part of the summer programs.  Meeting friends (who become equivalent of family when you are overseas) is my favorite past time, exploring different neighborhoods with them and seeing what you discover, have led to some of the best experiences of my time here in NY.


St. George's Society of New York is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization. Tax ID: 23-7426425