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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This restoration, though it is far from complete, shows clearly enough that the incidents belong to a ceremonial of primitive well worship. Dressing holy wells with garlands and flowers is very general; cakes were eaten at Rorrington Well, Shropshire, and offerings of pins, buttons, and portions of the dress, as well as small articles worn on the person, are very general; silence is enforced in many instances, and sacred trees and bushes are to be found at nearly all holy wells. Offerings are sometimes hung in the bushes and trees, sometimes thrown into the well. Miss Burne records in Shropshire Folk-Lore (pp. 414, 433, 434) that at Rorrington Green, in the parish of Chirbury, is a holy well, at which a wake was celebrated on Ascension Day. The well was adorned with green bowers, rushes, and flowers, and a maypole was set up. The people used to walk round the hill with fife, drum, and riddle, dancing and frolicking as they went. They threw pins into the well for good luck, and to prevent them from being bewitched, and they also drank the water. Cakes were eaten. These were round flat buns, from three to four inches across, sweetened, spiced, and marked with a cross, and were supposed to bring good luck if kept.
Instances of similar practices at holy wells could be multi­plied, and they are exhaustively examined in my husband's book on Ethnology in Folk-Lore. Halliwell records in his nursery rhymes what is perhaps the oldest printed version of the rhyme. He says the children form a long string, hand in hand; one stands in front as leader, two hold up their clasped hands to form an arch, and the children pass under; the last is taken prisoner. Though this way of playing does not appear to be used now—no version, at least, has reached me—it is clear that the game might be played in this way, probably as a commencement of the ceremonial, and then the other positions might follow. Halliwell may not have recorded it minutely or have heard of it as a whole, or the version sent him may have been in degenerate form. It is, however, clear that the arch form here indicates a ceremonial, and- not the taking of a prisoner.
" Oranges and Lemons " (vol. ii. pp. 25-35)is the best-known

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