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London Bridge
  To play the game, two players are chosen to join hands and raise them high to form the arch of the bridge.  The rest sing and march in a circle, moving under the arch.  At the words "my fair lady" the arch falls down to trap a player.  The two players who form the bridge have already privately decided which of them is "silver" and which is "gold."  The prisoner is asked his choice, which he or she whispers so that the other players will not hear.  He or she then takes a place behind the player whose word was chosen, usually holding on at the waist.  (An additional capture occurs at the words "here's the prisoner we have caught.") The song is sung until all players have been caught. 
At the end, the gold and silver teams have a tug-of-war until one side is pulled down by the other. 
(The tug-of-war does not seem to be as prevalent in England as in America.)
The Game-Song
History of the Bridge and the Game-Song
London Bridge

1.   London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down,
     London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.

2.   London Bridge is broken down, broken down, broken down,
     London Bridge is broken down, my fair lady.

3.   How shall we build it up again, etc.

4.   Build it up with penny loaves, etc.

5.   Penny loaves will crumble so, etc. 

6.   Build it up with needles and pins, etc. 

7.   Needles and pins will bend and break, etc

8.   Build it up with building-blocks, etc. 

9.   Building-blocks will tumble down, etc. 

10.  Build it up with wooden sticks, etc. 

11.  Wooden sticks will fall away, etc. 

12.  Build it up with stones and clay, etc. 

13.  Stones and clay will wash away, etc. 

14.  Build it up with bricks and mortar, etc. 

15.  Bricks and mortar will not stay, etc. 

16.  Build it up with iron bars, etc. 

17.  Iron bars will rust away, etc. 

18.  Build it up with ropes of steel, etc. 

19.  Ropes of steel will bend and bow, etc. 

20.  Build it up silver and gold, etc. 

21.  Silver and gold will be stolen away, etc.

22.  We will set a man to watch, etc.

23.  Suppose the man should fall asleep, etc.

24.  Give him a pipe to smoke all night, etc.

25.  Suppose the pipe should fall and break, etc.

26.  We'll get a cock to crow all night, etc.

27.  Suppose the cock should run away, etc.

28.  We'll get a dog to make him stay, etc.

29.  Suppose the dog should catch a thief, etc.

30.  Here's the prisoner we have caught, etc.

31.  What's the prisoner done to you, etc.

32.  Stole my watch and broke my chain, etc.

33.  What will you take to set him free, etc.

34.  One hundred pounds will set him free, etc.

35.  One hundred pounds he has not got, etc.

36.  Then off to prison he must go, etc.

37.  To which prison should he go, etc.

38.  Take him over London Bridge, etc.

39a.
(first ending, which starts the song-game all over again)
        London Bridge is falling down, etc.

39b.
(alternate ending, which is about the sale of the bridge
       London Bridge has now been sold, etc.

40.  Arizona's where it is, etc. 

41.  Yankee Doodle keep it up, etc. 

History of the Bridge
and the Old Game-Song

The Bridge

     The bridge which is constantly falling down and impossible to repair is linked to rites of antiquity.  The first London Bridge was engineered by a monk of England, Peter of Colebrook.  The building of it took fom 1176 to 1209, but Peter died before its completion and was buried in a chapel on the bridge. 

     The bridge itself, a masonry structure of nineteen arches weighted down by shops and dwellings, was the centre of London life for 600 years.  It was replaced with another bridge sixty yards up-river, built by the architect, John Rennie, with his son Sir John Rennie, from 1825-1831. 

     Upon being replaced and dismantled in 1967, the Rennie masonry facade was sold to an American private-developer and re-erected at Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

The Old Game-Song

     The favorite old game-ballad is known throughout the European countries, and has been traced to a game, Coda Romano, played by Florentine children in 1328. (William Wells Newell. Games and Songs of American Children. 1883, 1903.)  In Rabelais' Gargantua, written in 1534, "the fallen bridges" is one of the games played.  The stanzas about the "prisoner" date from the late 1800's.  The last three stanzas are relatively new, prompted by the mid-twentieth century sale of the bridge.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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