Friday, June 10, 2011

He stepped in a puddle

Doctor Foster
Went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain.
He stepped in a puddle
Right up to his middle
And never went there again!

This morning I was in a hurry as we are traveling south to Wellington later this evening and I have a lot of errands to do before we leave.

Rushing around, I misjudged a puddle and needless to say, although I didn't end up to my middle in it, my shoes are now drying in the hot-water cupboard!
As I clambered back into the car, after my mishap, the nursery rhyme above went through my mind.
I am loving the way these childhood rhymes are still with me, so to speak, and so I am intrigued to find their origins.

This poem is believed to be from England and about King Edward 1 and a trip he made to Gloucester. This is from English history dating back to the Plantagenet monarchy of the 13th century. It was told as a warning to children in bygone days, prior to modern roads, that what may appear to be a shallow puddle could in fact be much deeper!

Supposedly, in this rhyme Dr. Foster is King Edward I of England. He traveled to Gloucester in the middle of a rainstorm. When he entered Gloucester his horse fell and both he and the horse ended up in the middle of a huge mud puddle. King Edward 1 (June 17, 1239 – July 7, 1307) was a powerful man, over six foot tall . The town's people had to use planks of wood to remove both King Edward and his horse from the mud. King Edward was enraged by this misfortune and refused to return to Gloucester.

Gloucester is pronounced as "gloster" and rhymes with Foster. The Real Mother Goose (published in 1916 and illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright) spells it as "Glo'ster" in their version.

The rhyme was first published in its modern form in 1844( also The Big Book of Nursery Rhymes (circa 1920) edited by Walter Jerrold (1865 – 1929) and illustrated by Charles Robinson.) although the rhyming of 'puddle' with 'middle' suggests that it may have originally been the archaic 'piddle' for a stream and that the verse may therefore be much older.

Geraldine Granger - The Vicar of Dibley

And of course let us not forget the Vicar of Dibley when she fell in a puddle right up to her middle!

1 comment :

  1. Now that nursery rhyme brings back memories.
    I love that pic of the Vicar of Dibley. I have a giggle every time I think of that scene. It was sooo funny! Maa.