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Alphabe Thursday D is for Ding, Dong Bell

June 12, 2014

2014-06-08 09.45.00

Ding, dong, bell,

Pussy’s in the well.

Who put her in?

Little Tommy Green.

Who pulled her out?

Little Tommy Stout.

What a naughty boy was that,

To try to drown poor pussy cat.

Who never did him any harm,

And killed the mice in his father’s barn.







 Very common in my generation; not so sure now though, but it does have a long history. In 1580 John Gant, an organist of Winchester Cathedral ,

Cathedral, collected;

Jacke boy, ho boy newes,

the cat is in the well,

let us ring now for her knell,

ding dong ding dong bell.


This cannon was later printed in Pammelia, Musiks miscellanie, 1609, and appears to have been alluded to in the Taming of the shrew, while ‘Ding Dong Bell is the burden of songs in the Merchant of Venice and the Tempest.  

Alternative names for the malevolent Johnny Green are Tommy O’Linne (1797) and Tommy Quin (1840)

Nursery Rhyme reformers have recently taken particular objection to Ding dong bell, claiming that children have been known to throw cats into ponds after being influenced by the rhyme.

alphabet thursday



10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2014 7:10 pm

    Such a cute poem 🙂

  2. June 12, 2014 10:43 pm

    I read that to my kids when they were little and it always kind of made them sad!

  3. June 13, 2014 12:38 pm

    Nursery rhythms seem to be mean spirited. Wonder why they were for children? {:-Deb

    • June 13, 2014 12:43 pm

      Yes! My children were bought up on Roger McGogh and Benjamin Zephaniah a bit more fun!!

  4. June 14, 2014 4:56 am

    This was very sad. I like lighthearted rhymes for the kids. This was very old school. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your weekend.

    • June 14, 2014 9:23 am

      Oh Yes! best confined to ‘thanks but no thanks!’ you too have a good weekend xx

  5. June 20, 2014 1:25 am

    This verse was in a book of poetry I read often as a child.

    I was always disturbed by it!

    I think I might still be!

    Thanks for a delightful link for the letter D.


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