REMEMBER, remember, the fifth of November, gunpowder, treason and plot.

We still do remember of course, even though it's more to do with fireworks and fun these days. Many of us will be sharing a sparkler and eating hotdogs beside a bonfire on Monday night, and some may even vaguely recall the reason for the "celebration".

But while it's well known that Guy Fawkes and the failed attempt to blow up King James and his parliament had a strong Worcestershire connection, it's a little known fact that the Gunpowder Plot and its aftermath spread as far as a small Herefordshire hamlet.

The plot to overthrow protestant King James had been hatched by disgruntled Catholic gentry - banned from practising their faith, forced to worship in secret and fined for not attending Protestant churches.

After Fawkes was found with 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellars of the Palace of Westminster on November 4, 1605, the rest of the plotters fled London and were pursued to Staffordshire.

Four died in a shoot out at Holbeach House on November 8, while others were seized by the 200-strong posse under Worcester High Sheriff Richard Walsh.

After interrogation and a quick trial, the survivors all died gruesome traitors' deaths by hanging, drawing and quartering.

But two of the plotters had managed to escape and the country was up in arms looking for them. Robert Winter, from Huddington Court in Worcestershire, and Stephen Littleton, whose family owned Hagley Hall near Stourbridge, had gone to ground sleeping in barns and hiding in Catholic sympathisers' houses.

It's at this point that a Herefordshire tailor enters the story, volunteering his services to guide Winter and Littleton to a secluded safe house in theMonnow Valley five miles north ofMonmouth.

George Charnock practised the old outlawed religion and lived at a farmhouse at the Cwm, a rural retreat between Welsh Newton and Llanrothal, a house from where the Jesuits secretly ministered to Wales and the Marches.

The Monnow Valley was a hotbed of Catholicism and had been at the centre of riots in Herefordshire just six months before the Gunpowder Plot, when people were prosecuted for hearing Catholic Mass at a large gathering at the Darren overlooking theMonnow.

The Sheriff of Herefordshire had brutally put down the unrest and three people were even executed for trying to convert their neighbours.

Out in the wilds, backed by thick woodland behind and commanding a hilltop view for miles in front, the Cwm seemed the perfect place to hide the plotters.

And information held at Monmouth Museum from manuscripts left by King James' chief minister Robert Cecil, the Earl of Salisbury, tells that Worcestershirebased Jesuit, Father Edward Oldcorne, urged Cwm-based priest Father Robert Jones to hide Winter and Littleton at the remote farmhouse.

According to testimony given to investigators by Littleton's uncle Humphrey, a plan was hatched for the country's two most wanted men to be spirited away in the night to theWelsh Marches, with Charnock instructed to wait in a field and guide the two fugitives to safety.

Margaret Kelly, who used to live there and has researched the building's history, says: "It's believed the two plotters came to the Cwm and spent at least a night here, but they were on the run, so they kept moving.

"Indeed, I've heard it said that when they arrived nearby, they even asked directions to the Cwm of the Anglican priest at Monmouth's Dixton Church.

"It's centuries ago now, but these snippets get passed down the generations, and I think it's likely they stayed at the Cwm."

What is certain, is that when officials caught up with Charnock after the plotters' arrest in Worcestershire, he was taken to Worcester Gaol, where according to Salisbury's manuscripts, he confessed "with much ado" to his part in the plan to bring the duo to Father Jones.

Charnock could have been executed for his involvement, but was eventually released and returned to the Cwm, where records show him as still living in 1618.

He fared far better than Winter and Littleton, whose luck ran out on January 9, 1606, when they were betrayed by the cook at Hagley Hall, having been hidden there by Humphrey Littleton.

They were hunted down in woodland nearby and three weeks later in St Paul's Churchyard in London, Winter was hanged, drawn and quartered. Littleton was executed later at Stafford, saying on the scaffold that he did it only for his religion, for which he was ready and willing to die.

His uncle tried to buy his own life by betraying Jesuit priests Oldcorne and Father Henry Garnet.

Littleton's "co-operation" did him no good, though. He was executed at Worcester's Red Hill on April 7, going to meet his maker alongside Oldcorne, the man he had betrayed, who paid the ultimate price for trying to help the two plotters escape toHerefordshire.

Catholics suffered persecution for years to come in the wake of the plot, but despite the crackdown, its followers kept the faith, with the old religion's flame flickering from the Cwmfarmhouse.

Though rebuilt in 1834, current Cwm farmhouse owner Mary Walsh says it still contains part of the original building, including a fireplace, a Herefordshire window and cellars, though rumours of escape tunnels have so far proved unfounded.

Despite the best efforts of the Sheriff of Herefordshire, nothing could be made to stick on Father Robert Jones. And just four years after the plot, he was appointed Jesuit Superior for England and Wales by the Pope, charged with keeping the faith alive in its darkest hours.

As recently as 1970, Fathers Oldcorne and Garnett were canonised as saints by the Pope among the "40 Martyrs of England and Wales", along with two of Jones' Jesuit successors at the Cwm, David Lewis and Monmouth-born Phillip Evans.

After Father Jones' death in 1615, the Cwm became a Jesuit training college for priests until its dissolution by the Bishop of Hereford and the seizure of it