Nursery Rhyme Series: Oranges and Lemons


Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.
You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.
When will you pay me?
Say the bells at Old Bailey.
When I grow rich,
Say the bells at Shoreditch.
When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.
I do not know,
Says the great bell at Bow.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
Chip chop chip chop the last man’s dead.

Just a lovely rhyme about the different sounds of church bells around London, right ….until those last three lines. Various theories have been put forward about the meaning of the sinister ending, ranging from child sacrifice and public executions to Henry VIII’s marital difficulties. But no-one really knows. The lines were added later and don’t appear in earlier published versions of the rhyme.

A4 Ink on 300g acid-free paper


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Nursery Rhyme Series: Oranges and Lemons”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *