Sunday, 4 May 2014

In ssearch of Bow Bells part 2

And so we headed for St. Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside to locate the real subject of Oranges and Lemons.

This wasn't difficult  to find. but it is difficult to get a decent photograph so I have borrowed this one from Wikipaedia

Nor is it simple to find the original rhyme

The first thing I found is that there is a longer version of the rhyme in use thus:
Gay go up and gay go down,
To ring the bells of London town.

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clements.
Bull's eyes and targets,
Say the bells of St. Margret's.               
Brickbats and tiles,
Say the bells of St. Giles'.
Halfpence and farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.
Pancakes and fritters,
Say the bells of St. Peter's.
Two sticks and an apple,
Say the bells of Whitechapel.
Pokers and tongs,
Say the bells of St. John's.
Kettles and pans,
Say the bells of St. Ann's.
Old Father Baldpate,
Say the slow bells of Aldgate.
You owe me ten shillings,
Say the bells of St. Helen's.
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.
When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.
Pray when will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.
I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
Chop chop chop chop
The last man's dead!

As with many such nursery rhymes, the true meaning has been lost in time but that does not deter people from propounding their own theories. These include references to child sacrifice prompted by the final two lines.  However a difficulty in this is that the earliest record of the rhyme does not contain those lines.:-

Two Sticks and Apple,   
Ring ye Bells at Whitechapple,
Old Father Bald Pate,  
Ring ye Bells Aldgate,
Maids in White Aprons,      

Ring ye Bells a St. Catherines,
Oranges and Lemons,  

Ring ye bells at St. Clements,
When will you pay me,  

Ring ye Bells at ye Old Bailey,
When I am Rich,  

Ring ye Bells at Fleetditch,
When will that be,  

Ring ye Bells at Stepney,
When I am Old,  

Ring ye Bells at Pauls

The identity of the churches is also a continuing subject of debate. Here is a map of the churches in the rhyme

St. Mary-le-Bow was almost completely destroyed by bombs in WWII

This aerial photograph was taken in 1941.

However this was not the only destruction the church has suffered.
In 1666 it was destroyed in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren.  At  the time it was almost as important as St. Paul's Cathedral and was one of the first to be rebuilt by Wren.

Lord Mayor of London strikingthe bells at the foundry 1956
During the bombing in 1941 the bells were all but destroyed and a new peel of twelve was cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in 1956.  The were hung and rung in 1961 and the church was reconsecrated in 1964.
Although there is much confusion around the identity of the churches in Oranges & Lemons, the Cockney connection is not disputed: to be a Cockney you must be born within the sound of Bow Bells - the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside.

These ones here!

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