Nursery Rhymes

Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross

The words of the Banbury Cross nursery rhyme are often attributed to Queen Elizabeth I of England (the fine lady) who travelled to Banbury to see a huge stone cross which had just been erected. The words 'With rings on her fingers' obviously relates to the fine jewellery which would be worn by a Queen. The words 'And bells on her toes' refer to the fashion of attaching bells to the end of the pointed toes of each shoe - this fashion actually originates from the Plantagenet era of English history but was associated with the nobility for some time! Banbury was situated at the top of a steep hill and in order to help carriages up the steep incline a white cock horse (a large stallion) was made available by the town's council to help with this task. When the Queen's carriage attempted to go up the hill a wheel broke and the Queen chose to mount the cock horse and ride to the Banbury cross. The people of the town had decorated the cock horse with ribbons and bells and provided minstrels to accompany her - "she shall have music wherever she goes". The massive stone cross at Banbury was unfortunately later destroyed by anti - Catholics who opposed the notion of pilgrimages.


Alternative meaning to the Banbury Cross English Nursery Rhyme

Our grateful thanks is extended to David Miller for the following information:

"The woman in question was in fact Lady Katherine Banbury, wife of Lord Jonathan Banbury. Miss Amy Banbury, sub matron of Auckland hospital, New Zealand (my grandfather's cousin) recalled after World War I her grandfather, Squire of Burford near Banbury in Oxfordshire, telling her that he distinctly recalled the white horse on which the "fine lady" used to ride. Among Lady Banbury's jewels were many very beautiful rings of which she was very fond. The bells were the tiny bells often used in those days to trim the edges of a lady's velvet saddle cloth. Miss Amy Banbury had a copy of the music written for the rhyme by a well known musician of the day, along with fine oak furniture from Banbury Castle. These matters were reported in the New Zealand Herald some years after the end of World War I"

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.

Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross

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