Nursery Rhyme Series: Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary


Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells,
And cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row

There are several interpretations of what this nursery rhyme means. The most grizzly (and the one I’ve gone with in my drawing) concerns Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. She was a staunch Catholic, it is said that she persecuted, tortured and murdered many Protestants, earning her the title of ‘Bloody Mary’. The ‘garden’ in the rhyme is the ever expanding graveyard. Silver bells and cockle shells are ┬átorture devices – look them up – and the ‘pretty maids all in a row’ are prisoners lining up to be executed at the ‘Halifax Gibbet’, a kind of guillotine.

Ink on 300g acid-free paper




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