The Traditional Children's Games of England Scotland
& Ireland In Dictionary Form - Volume 2

With Tunes(sheet music), Singing-rhymes(lyrics), Methods Of Playing with diagrams and illustrations.

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Gurton's Garland, 1783, as the origin of this game. In Aber­deen, Mr. M. L. Rouse tells me he has heard Scotch children apparently playing the same game, " Oranges and Lemons, ask, Which would you have, ' A sack of corn or a sack of coals ? ' " (d) This game indicates a contest between two opposing parties, and a punishment, and although in the game the sequence of events is not at all clear, the contest taking place after the supposed execution, these two events stand out very clearly as the chief factors. In the endeavour to ascertain who the contending parties were, one cannot but be struck with the significance of the bells having different saint's names. Now the only places where it would be probable for bells to be associated with more than one saint's name within the circuit of a small area are the old parish units of cities and boroughs. Bells were rung on occasions when it was necessary or advisable to call the people together. At the ringing of the " alarm bell" the market places were quickly filled by crowds of citizens; and by turning to the customs of these places in England, it will be found that contest games between parishes, and between the wards of parishes, were very frequent (see Gomme's Village Community, pp. 241-243). These contests were generally conducted by the aid of the football, and in one or two cases, such as at Ludlow, the contest was with a rope, and, in the case of Derby, it is specially stated that the victors were announced by the joyful ringing of their parish bells. Indeed, Halliwell has preserved the " song on the bells of Derby on football morning " (No. clxix.) as follows :—
Pancake and fritters,
Say All Saints and St. Peter's;
When will the ball come,
Say the bells of St. Alkmun ;
At two they will throw,
Says Saint Werabo;
O! very well,
Says little Michel. This custom is quite sufficient to have originated the game, and the parallel which it supplies is evidence of the connection between the two. Oranges and lemons were, in all probability,

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