Rhymes trivia quiz
nursery rhyme lyrics & origins
rhymes trivia quiz
nursery rhyme lyrics & origins

Nursery Rhymes Lyrics and Origins

The Bells of  St. Martins

The Bells of St. Martin's


St Martin Ongar church, situated in Martin Lane was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Only the bell tower, complete with the original bell, has survived in the rectory of St Clements. "You owe me five farthings" relates to the moneylenders who traded nearby.

The Great Fire of London - destruction of the London Churches
Many of the old London churches were destroyed in the Great Fire of London. The fire started in Pudding Lane in the house and shop of Thomas Farynor who was baker to King Charles II. The King was aware of the risk of fire in Baker's shops and ensured that this task was conducted away from the palaces. In the London of 1666 the medieval houses were half timbered, with pitch, and most had thatched roofs - the recipe for disaster in terms of fire risks! The old St Paul's cathedral was destroyed in the fire together with 87 churches. A total of 13,200 houses were also destroyed but amazingly only 6 were known to have died! Sir Christopher Wren, the great architect, was tasked with the reconstruction of London and built 49 new churches together with the great cathedral of St. Paul's over a period of 35 years! The city was not subject to re-planning and houses were replaced on exactly the sites of the buildings which were destroyed. To this day the City of London has the same structure which dates back to medieval times! A final note on the Great Fire! A year before, in 1665, the City was decimated by the Great Plague of London which killed 16% of the inhabitants (17,500 out of the population of 93,000) - The Great Fire whilst destroying most of London also purged it of the Plague! We recommend the following site for comprehensive information regarding the Bubonic Plague and the Black Death


Great Fire of London


The Bells of St. Martins

"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

The Bells of St. Martins


Note: A Rhymes lyrics and the perceived origins of some Nursery Rhymes vary according to location


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Written By Linda Alchin