“London Bridge Is Falling Down” is a singing game and one of the most popular nursery rhymes, dating back to the 18th century England.

It was first published in 1744 in the “Pretty Song Book” collection by Tommy Thumb. However, it is difficult to state the exact origin of its lyrics, but it can be connected with the London Bridge’s history, one of the most well-known bridges in London, today also a very popular tourist destination.

London Bridge Short History

First a wooden bridge, London Bridge’s history dates back to the Roman occupation era, just around AD 50. It was several times destroyed, and rebuilt during the Vikings and Saxon invasions but also during natural disasters such as the 1091 tornado and the 1136 fire.

The construction of the first Medieval London Bridge was started in 1176 and continued for 33 years, under Peter de Colechurch’s instructions. The new stone bridge, completed in 1209, was designed with 19 arches and a gatehouse accessed by a drawbridge. It was populated with around 200 shops and businesses, so crossing the river became really hard. The bridge’s endurance was also put in danger by carrying such a heavy charge on it.

This practice, among others, affected the bridge’s strength. Although the bridge was not destroyed in the 1666 fire, its stability was seriously deteriorated.

A new construction of London Bridge was started in the 19th century, replacing the old one, demolished in 1831. The actual London Bridge is an even more recent edifice, started during the 1960s. The demolished bridge in 1831 was sold out, and stone by stone it was moved and re-assembled in a new place in Lake Havasu, Arizona.

“London Bridge Is Falling Down” As a Game

London Bridge was indeed “falling down” several times over the years, being re-built stronger again and again. The song has become one of the most popular singing-games among the kids over the world, being translated and adapted in many languages, especially in European countries such as Denmark: “Knippelsbro Gar Op og Ned”, France: “Pont chus”, Italy “Le porte” Germany: “Die Magdeburger Bruck” and Romania “Podul de piatra”

How to play:

Two kids are making an arch holding their hands up, face to face and the rest of them, are passing under the arch, one by one, creating a circle of them. They continue to walk under the arch, one by one in circle. When the last word of the verse is said (the “My fair Lady”) the two children who form the arch have to capture one child dropping their hands down. The game continues until each kid is captured.

“London Bridge Is Falling Down” Lyrics

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with wood and clay,
Wood and clay, wood and clay,
Build it up with wood and clay,
My fair Lady.

Wood and clay will wash away,
Wash away, wash away,
Wood and clay will wash away,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with bricks and mortar,
Bricks and mortar, bricks and mortar,
Build it up with bricks and mortar,
My fair Lady.

Bricks and mortar will not stay,
Will not stay, will not stay,
Bricks and mortar will not stay,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with iron and steel,
Iron and steel, iron and steel,
Build it up with iron and steel,
My fair Lady.

Iron and steel will bend and bow,
Bend and bow, bend and bow,
Iron and steel will bend and bow,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, silver and gold,
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair Lady.

Silver and gold will be stolen away,
Stolen away, stolen away,
Silver and gold will be stolen away,
My fair Lady.

Set a man to watch all nigh,
Watch all night, watch all night,
Set a man to watch all night,
My fair Lady.

Suppose the man should fall asleep,
Fall asleep, fall asleep,
Suppose the man should fall asleep?
My fair Lady.

Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
Smoke all night, smoke all night,
Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
My fair Lady.

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