Family Abroad

London Bridges and Other Nursery Rhymes

During my brief time on planet earth, electronic gaming has begun to replace the nursery rhymes that entertained my parents for hours-on-end (personally, I don’t know how they kept from going crazy…or maybe this explains a lot). In any event, there are still many nursery rhymes that I learned from my older siblings and cousins. And, now that I am researching “Nursery Rhymes”, I am realizing that most of the nursery rhymes that I know originated from England. Not only that, but many of these nursery rhymes may also have dark and scary origins. Now, I need to know more about our English heritage!

Here are just a few nursery rhymes on a rather long list:

  • Jack & Jill
  • Jack Be Nimble
  • Little Bo Peep
  • Little Boy Blue
  • Little Miss Muffet
  • Mary, Mary Quite Contrary
  • Old King Cole
  • Peter Piper
  • Pop Goes The Weasel
  • Hey Diddle Diddle
  • Hickory Dickory Dock
  • Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
  • Bingo
  • Rub-a-Dub Dub
  • Humpty Dumpty
  • Sticks and Stones
  • The Muffin Man
  • Three Blind Mice
  • Tweedledee and Tweedledum
  • What Are Little Boys Made Of
  • The Three Little Pigs

How many of y’all were singing the words to these English nursery rhymes as you read the names?

Okay – So, back to London Bridges. This has always been one of my favorite nursery rhymes.

 Sign Posted on London Bridge!

We actually found this sign on a stairway on the side of London Bridge. Keep in mind that London Bridge is not the more well-known Tower Bridge (Draw Bridge). Anyway – back to the nursery rhyme! Do you remember the words you sang as a child?

The way I was taught, two players would hold hands and then they would make an arch. The other players would then march through the arch single file. At the end of the nursery rhyme, the original two players would lower the arch, capturing one of the players.

1636 was the first year that the nursery rhyme was mentioned and it was in the late 19th century that its melody was first recorded. Wow!! This common kid’s game is more than 300 years old – talk about “going viral”!

No one really knows what this nursery rhyme means, which is amazing. But, I guess it is more understandable once you think about the fact that since the nursery rhyme was started, there have been several actual “London Bridges”! One version says that the rhyme is about the time that the Saxons and the Vikings destroyed the bridge. This would have been around 1014 when Olaf (with the help of the Viking God Odin) attacked London. I can tell you that if Thor was there with his father, Odin, my mother would have been rooting for the Vikings that day!

Anyway, the historians actually doubt that there was an attack by Olaf. I have to agree with the historians as the Olaf in “Frozen” would have never attacked anyone.

A more promising meaning would be about how the bridge was always needing repair. After 1176, the bridge started deteriorating at a fairly rapid pace. This is my theory and this theory is supported in a plaque that I read that was on a stairwell right next to the London Bridge. The plaque provided a lot of helpful information.

In 1831, the “new” London Bridge was built and it was replaced in 1972. What is weird is that the old bridge sold for $2,460,000.00 to an American who bought this bridge as an attraction. The bridge was disassembled, shipped to Lake Havasu City, Arizona and then re-assembled.

While here in London, I heard a rumor that the American was very upset to learn that the London Bridge he purchased wasn’t the same as the Tower Bridge that we see in all of the pictures. I know it was a joke, but I can’t blame him for that mistake as we all made the same mistake when we first got here. But eventually, we learned that the famous bridge that we all learned about is actually the Tower Bridge (and not the London Bridge mentioned in the nursery rhyme).

Did anyone else play with this nursery rhyme?

What was your favorite nursery rhyme?

If you want more information about one of the nursery rhymes above, just let me know which one!

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