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

Longer version:
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 nigh,
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.

1744 version:
London Bridge
Is Broken down,
Dance over my Lady Lee.
London Bridge
Is Broken down
With a gay Lady.

 

London Bridge

The London Bridge is Falling Down—a very well known nursery rhyme, is about the destruction of the London Bridge. First wooden bridges already stood at the same spot in Roman times (Roman Londinium was established after the Roman invasion in the first century AD).

In 1013, in order 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 BridgeIn 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 of the bridge took 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 bridge. In 1633 part of the buildings on the bridge burned down, which 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 to cross the bridge and reach any further.

The New Bridge

London Bridge is Falling Down - the 19th Century BridgeBy the beginning of the 19th century the old bridge had become too narrow and insecure, and the city decided to build a bigger structure. Building began in 1824 and took 7 years until its completion. 70 years later it became necessary to widen the bridge, but this weakened its foundations, and the bridge began to sink

The bridge was sold, and relocated to the U.S. (Lake Havasu City, AZ). The current day 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 song’s end, the arch is lowered to catch one player.

 

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