Nursery Rhymes arrow List of Rhymes arrow Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross


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






History: 

A few ascribe the Banbury Cross nursery rhyme to Queen Elizabeth I of England, (the fine lady) who travelled to Banbury to see a enormous stone cross that had just been erected at the spot. In this view, the words 'With rings on her fingers' relates to the fine jewellery, including a signet ring of state, that would be worn by a Queen. The words 'And bells on her toes' refer to the style of attaching bells to the end of the pointed toes of each shoe, a fashion that originated in the 15th century through the Plantagenet-era and became associated with the nobility.

Banbury was positioned at the top of a sheer hill and in order to help carriages up the incline, a white cock horse (a large stallion) was made accessible by the town's council to help with this task. As legend has it, when Queen Elizabeth made the pilgrimage to Banbury to see the new cross, the royal carriage broke a wheel as it attempted to go up the hill. The Queen chose to rise the cock horse, which the townspeople had decorated with ribbons and bells, in order to ascend the hill and view the Banbury cross. Minstrels provided by the town accompanied the Queen, thus: "She shall have music wherever she goes".

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross is a nursery rhyme associated with the English town Banbury. The huge stone cross of the title was shattered by anti-Catholic Puritans in 1602 who were opposed to the notion of pilgrimages, but it was replaced in 1858.

One unverified legend holds that the "fine lady" was Lady Godiva. Another proposal links her with the wealthy Fiennes (pronounced 'fines') family that had married into the Saye relations of nearby Broughton Castle; the lady may have arrived in Banbury by stagecoach and completed the 3-mile trip to the castle on one of the castle's superior horses. The "cock horse" is usually recognized as a hobby-horse – of course it may have been a stallion.
 

 
< Prev   Next >