London Bridge is Falling Down

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

London Bridge nursery rhyme

 

London Bridge

The London Bridge is Falling Down—a very well known nursery rhyme is about the destruction of the London Bridge. The first wooden bridges stood at the same spot in Roman times. Already two thousand years ago! Roman Londinium was established right after the Roman invasion in the 1st century AD.

In 1013, to split invading Danish forces, the bridge was burned down by King Ethelhed. The last wooden bridge at the spot was built in 1163, supervised by Peter of Colechurch.

The Medieval Bridge

London Bridge is Falling Down - Medieval Bridge

In 1176 King Henry II ordered Peter of Colechurch to build a stone bridge. The new stone bridge was to have a chapel at the center in honor of St. Thomas Becket, who was murdered a few years earlier. The building process was slow, taking 33 years. With fortified gates at either end, the bridge soon became lined by shops. In 1350, for example, the bridge had 138 shops, and some people even lived in the 3-4 stories high houses built on the London bridge. In 1633 part of the buildings on the bridge burned down. Later, this turned to be very helpful, as when the Great Fire of London blazed through the city in 1666, this acted as a fire break, preventing the fire from crossing the bridge and reach any further.

The New Bridge

London Bridge is Falling Down - the 19th Century Bridge

By the beginning of the 19th century, the old bridge had become too narrow and insecure, and the city decided to build a more significant structure. The building began in 1824. Now it took only 7 years until its completion. In the sixties of the 20th century, this bridge had become too narrow for the ever-growing traffic. It was sold and relocated to the U.S. (Lake Havasu City, AZ). The current London Bridge, made of concrete, was opened in 1972.

Children’s Singing Game

There is also a children’s singing game by this name that was particularly popular in Victorian England. Two players make an arch with their hands, while others go through. Then, at the song’s end, the arch is lowered to catch one player.