Some Nottinghamshire folk rhymes

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A selection

By R B Parish

Like every county, Nottinghamshire has its fare share of folk rhymes and sayings. These are rhymes often composed to slander nearby parishes. A classic example is as follows:

“Balderton crows and Newark jackdaws, Went into a field ter feiight, Balderton  crows licked Newark jackdaws, Though there wor ten ter eight.”

Northall (1892) notes the origin in this being that Balderton had rookeries in the village and Newark old church had a large colony of jackdaws, however does the origin date from an older time than this and recording tribal totems from Saxon times?  A similar jibe noted that:

“Clifton and Glapham are all as one, But Clifton has a church and Glapham none.”

Often rhymes included digs at more than one town or village, and some show how urban communities viewed perhaps their neighbouring villages such as:

Eaton and Taton, and Bramcote o’ th’ hill, Beggarly Beeston, and lousy Chilwell,

Waterside Wilford, hey little Lenton, Ho fine Nottingham, Colwick and Sneinton.”

Sometimes, the rhyme refers to the bells of the church, although I am not sure of the real meaning of the following as it refers to serving dishes and eggs!:

Colston’s cracked pancheons, Screveton’s egg-shells, Bingham’s two rollers, Whatton’s merry bells.”

Often rhymes would refer to the fame or notoriety of trades or occupations. For example the following:

“Nottinghamschir full of hoggys, Derbychier full of doggys”

This referred to the large number of pigs brought up around the town due to the considerable demand needed in it, a fact still in evidence along the A614! Sometimes the rhyme was a slur on the boasts of that community:

“Little Smith of Nottingham,  Who doth the work that no man can. Pretending to do more work than can be done.”

The following may appear a little incomprehensive:

 “Nottingham where they knock ‘em down, Oakham where they catch ‘em. Bringhurst where they bury them, And Cottesmore where they cry.”

However it is believed that it originates from the time when Rutland (where the other three places are to be found) was a fiscal appendage to Nottingham.

The author is preparing a book on Nottinghamshire folklore. Any correspondence on this matter is greatly received.



Northall, G. F., (1892) English Folk Rhymes  

This page was added by R B Parish on 26/03/2013.
Comments about this page

Regarding the 'Newark Jackdaws...' rhyme - I think I can remember my father saying this was one of his childhood rhymes, i assume in the 1940s

By jon steel
On 06/01/2014

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