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London Bridge is Falling Down


London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with wood and clay,
Wood and clay, wood and clay,
Build it up with wood and clay,
My fair Lady.

Wood and clay will wash away,
Wash away, wash away,
Wood and clay will wash away,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with bricks and mortar,
Bricks and mortar, bricks and mortar,
Build it up with bricks and mortar,
My fair Lady.

Bricks and mortar will not stay,
Will not stay, will not stay,
Bricks and mortar will not stay,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with iron and steel,
Iron and steel, iron and steel,
Build it up with iron and steel,
My fair Lady.

Iron and steel will bend and bow,
Bend and bow, bend and bow,
Iron and steel will bend and bow,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, silver and gold,
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair Lady.

Silver and gold will be stolen away,
Stolen away, stolen away,
Silver and gold will be stolen away,
My fair Lady.

Set a man to watch all night,
Watch all night, watch all night,
Set a man to watch all night,
My fair Lady.

Suppose the man should fall asleep,
Fall asleep, fall asleep,
Suppose the man should fall asleep?
My fair Lady.

Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
Smoke all night, smoke all night,
Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
My fair Lady.
 

This traditional rhyme was first published in 1744

There are various theories as to the meaning behind the rhyme and it is likely that verses have been added over the centuries.

In 1013 Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark had invaded England and taken the throne for himself. King Aethelred, his wife Emma and their three children fled to Normandy. In 1014 Sweyn died and was succeeded by his son Cnut. Aethelred returned to England with an army to try to regain his throne. He destroyed London Bridge in order to split the Danish army but it was in vain, Aethelred was killed in 1016, Cnut became King and married Emma.  

The original wooden bridge was rebuilt with stone in 1176 and in the middle ages contained a more than 100 shops selling a variety of items. The inclusion of silver and gold may relate to the commercial transactions carried out in the shops.

The bridge was further rebuilt in the 1820s.

 

 

 

 

 


Updated 18/08/2014

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