Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.

Ride a Cock Horse

Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book version from 1744:
Ride a cock-horse
To Banbury Cross,
To see what Tommy can buy;
A penny white loaf,
A penny white cake,
And a two-penny apple-pie.


Queen's Visit to Banbury

Ride a Cock Horse QueenThis nursery rhyme is said to refer to Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) and her visit to Banbury. Banbury is a little market town, a bit more than sixty miles northwest of London, England. At the time, an enormous stone cross had been put up, and the Queen traveled to the town to see it. On the way to the destination, a wheel of her carriage broke. She had to continue her way by riding on a horse. The animal she was given to, was a beautiful white stallion.

Puritans Against Crosses

Banbury Cross 1904Puritans who didn’t like the stone cross as a pilgrimage destination. They destroyed it, together with two other crosses in 1602. Two and a half centuries later, in 1859, another cross was put up near the same site that the original cross stood.

Banbury Cakes

Banbury is also famous for its delicious cakes. Banbury cakes, made with honey, cinnamon, and currents were already made at the time when Queen Elizabeth I visited the town. 


Sheet music