Tuesday, 13 April 2010


Yesterday, I walked over Waterloo Bridge (there's a wonderful old, black and white film by the same name - check it out if you can) and went exploring before lunch. There are two beautiful churches on the Strand and here is the first.

It's ST. MARY'S LE STRAND and is the official church of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRENS). Sadly, it was locked.

Venturing on a little further - I was struck by the most amazing sound of bells and realised that they were coming from a church a little further down the road, this one called ST. CLEMENT'S DANES. It's a beautiful little church and they told me that they are the bells featured in the famous nursery rhyme (though there seem to be rival claims to this!).

But I found myself singing it anyway - so if you're feeling nostalgic - here you are. You can sing it, too!

Gay go up and gay go down
To Ring the Bells of London Town

"Oranges and Lemons" say the
Bells of St. Clements
"Bullseyes and Targets" say the
Bells of St. Margaret'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
"Maids in white aprons" say the
Bells at St. Katherine's
"Pokers and Tongs" say the Bells of St. John's
"Kettles and Pans" say the
Bells of St. Anne'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" say the
Great Bell of Bow
Gay go up and gay go down
To Ring the Bells of London Town



  1. Wonderful church and tribute to pay to WRENS – I also feel very proud of having worked in the Navy.
    My favourite nursery rhyme? Well – I have a lovely memory about it.
    You know, when I was just 3 years old I was able to write my full name and address and I sang my first song in English (that’s why I love languages so much! It was written in the stars…) – and my mum (elementary school teacher and expert in pedagogy) taught me the names of the hand’s fingers with this funny nursery rhyme:

    “Dice il pollice che fame!
    Porta l’indice il salame.
    Per il medio e l’anulare
    Non lo vogliono affettare!
    Presto, presto il mignolino
    Scappa via col salamino!”


    “The thumb says: “I’m hungry!”
    The forefinger brings the salami
    For the middle and ring fingers
    Which don’t want to slice it!
    Soon so soon the little finger
    Runs away with the little salami!”

    In Italian you can notice the rhymes… and I’m still so grateful to her for being my best teacher! x

  2. Ahhh that brought back memories Sharon. It's many years since I heard this rhyme in all its glory! Thanks for reciting it all. My favourite is "Ring a Ring of Roses" - which is about the Great Plague I believe. Caroline x

  3. Dear Sharon
    How apt that you should remind us of that great nursery rhyme - "you owe me ten shillings" - on the day when Gordon Brown has hiked income tax up for the ordinary working man to ten shillings in the pound. Well done for thinking of this, and for bringing hom the iniquity of Labour misrule through your blog. Enough is enough. My native Abroath is coming out for the Tories!
    Yours, patriotically, Art

  4. That's lovely, Michela. As always.

    And Art - politics (like art!) are everywhere - and I admire the passion you so obviously feel about the forthcoming election.

  5. Aye, lassie, I do! Yours, Art

  6. Fascinating to see the full one - I know a much-shortened version ("You owe me five farthings" say the bells of St Martin's; "When will you pay me?" etc). And the last two lines were a bit gruesome and I assumed referred to Henry VIII's habit of sending people to the block... I think I prefer your version!