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Oranges And Lemons Or London Bridge Is Falling Down

Source: What Shall We Do Now?: Five Hundred Games And Pastimes
Category: GAMES FOR A PARTY





This pleasant old game begins by two of the older or taller
players--one being Oranges and the other Lemons--taking places
opposite each other and joining their hands high, thus making an arch
for the rest to pass under in a long line. The procession then
starts, each one holding the one in front by the coat or dress. As the
procession moves along, the two players forming the arch repeat or
chant these lines:--

"Oranges and lemons,"
Say the bells of St. Clement's.
"You owe me five farthings,"
Say the bells of St. Martin's.
"When will you pay me?"
Say the bells of Old Bailey.
"When I grow rich,"
Say the bells of Shoreditch.
"When will that be?"
Say the bells of Stepney.
"I do not know,"
Says the great bell of Bow.
Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off the last man's head.

With these final words the arch-players lower their arms and catch the
head of the last of the procession. In order that the arrival of the
end of the procession and the end of the verses shall come together,
the last line can be lengthened like this--

And here comes a chopper to chop off the last--last--last--last
man's head.

Another shorter verse which is often sung is,

London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down. My fair lady.

In this case the two players who make the arch with their arms can
choose any eatables they like--"ice cream" and "oysters." The players
who are caught are asked which they prefer and their places are back
of the one representing their choice. The captured player is then
asked in a whisper which he will be, oranges or lemons? and if he
says oranges, is placed accordingly behind that one of his capturers
who is to have the oranges on his side. The procession and the rhyme
begin again, and so on until all are caught and are ranged on their
respective sides. Then a handkerchief is placed on the floor between
the captains of the oranges and the lemons, and both sides pull, as
in the "Tug of War" (page 38), until one side is pulled over the
handkerchief.





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