We took part in The Gunpowder Plot, an immersive experience by Layered Reality at the Tower of London, to find out why groups have been opting for historical visits with a modern twist. 

“When you leave this room, you will become prisoners within the Tower of London in the year 1605.” And sure enough, when our welcome video ended, we exited the room through a glowing door which acted as a time warp.

Once you’re through, gone is modern technology and in its place, a dirty jail cell with a gentleman hunched up in the corner. It’s dark, damp and dripping with water as the prisoner, dressed in rags, tells his story. From here, you are taken on an exciting journey which uses live actors, virtual reality and special effects to immerse your group in the most famous plot in British history. 

Visitors help decipher codes at the Gunpowder Plot in London.

Source: Tom Powell Photography

Your group is led through the story by live actors who help bring history to life.

Everyone in the group is given a brown cloak to fit the historic period, and under the cover of darkness, are initiated into the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament which uses special projections on the wall to set the scene. Then it’s time to escape the tower and begin planning the operation - wooden swings blow in the wind and VR headsets allow you to imagine what it would be like to swing off the edge of the ancient White Tower.

Water sprays into your face and the seats in which you are perched swing heavily in the strong gusts to create a realistic illusion. The headsets show the turrets below and the almighty drop, but luckily we made it to safety. 

A group taking part in the Gunpowder Plot immersive experience in London

Source: Mark Dawson Photography

VR headsets make guests believe they are flying over the Tower of London’s walls.

More chaos unfolds though, as you’re forced to hide in the walls to avoid capture, and also navigate more dark passages to arrive at the Duck & Drake pub, a space for a quick drink to discuss the plot further. It’s suggested that the actual plan by Guy Fawkes was first conceived in a pub of the same name.

Later on, we’re introduced to the man himself, played by Harry Potter star Tom Felton, or the virtual version at least, along the River Thames. The group clamber into actual boats, before switching on the headsets to take a bumpy journey down the famous river to transport the gunpowder into the vaults of the Houses of Parliament. It’s fascinating to see London as it would have been. You can see tall ships sailing by, historic buildings glowing in the darkness and the hustle and bustle of workers on the river bank. 

Live actors bring the experience of the Gunpowder Plot in London to life

Source: Mark Dawson Photography

Will your group succeed or will your plan be foiled at the final moment?

You’re then led into the vaults to await your fate, where countless barrels can be seen stacked up, and actors lead you through the final part of the sequence. Will you be successful or will you be stopped at the last moment? Only you can find out by taking part in an experience that is sure to get the group talking - it certainly did for us. 

Groups of ten or more can save money on tickets, with large groups split up into smaller groups on arrival to make the visit more enjoyable. Food and drink can also be arranged either prior or after the experience.

For more information and to book, head to gunpowderimmersive.com.