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A-Z Blogging Challenge: C is for Crooked

For anyone who doesn't know the rhyme CROOKED in this instance is pronounced KROOK-ID as opposed to KROOKT

There was a crooked man
'There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse
and they all lived together in a little crooked house.'

I always loved this nursery rhyme as a child. I had a beautiful nursery rhyme book and it had a gorgeous drawing of the crooked man with his crooked cat and crooked house etc. I used to imagine what it might be like to live in such a house but, yet again, all is not as innocent as it seems.

It is believed that this rhyme has its origins back in the reign of Charles I.

The crooked man is reputed to be Scotland's General Sir Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven who was one of the Covenanters who signed the Covenant in 1638 securing religious and political freedom for Scotland. The crooked stile represents the border between Scotland and England and living together in the crooked house refers to the fact that Scotland and England had agreed to live in 'harmony'. The rhyme reflects the animosity which existed between the two countries around that time.

Personally, whilst the history behind the rhyme is very interesting, I prefer to imagine life in a little crooked house with little crooked tables and chairs and cups...


Anonymous said…
Hm, learn something new every day! I guess a lot of the old nursery rhymes have a moral to them or roots in history. But I agree, I like to take them at face value :)

Betsy Brock said…
How very interesting! I have never heard the meaning behind the rhyme!

So great to meet you through the AZ Challenge! I'm looking forward to your posts!
Anonymous said…
I absolutely loved this nursery rhyme. It reminds me of first grade--my favorite year. :)
Daisy Carter said…
I had no idea some nursery rhymes had bigger meanings! How fascinating! I loved this one as a kid - still do!
Andrina said…
I love this nursery rhyme. I agree that whilst the history behind it is nice to know, prefer the more imaginitve side.

Now if it ever comes up in conversation I can wow people with my knowledge of the history of nursery rhymes.

Denise said…
Lynn - It's fascinating how old saying, rhymes etc came about but it's definitely nicer to take them at face value.

Hi Betsy and thanks for dropping by. I didn't know so many nursery rhymes had quite 'dark' origins until I started looking into it.

Enjoy the challenge!

Linda - this is probably my favourite nursery rhyme out of all of them too.

Daisy - I love this one too although I prefer to think of it exactly as it's written now that I know its history. It is fascinating though!

Andrina - I shall keep my fingers crossed that somehow it does come up in conversation and you can show off your new found knowledge :-))
Laura Clipson said…
I've never heard this one before! Very interesting though :)
Denise said…
Loopyloo - Thanks. It's a lovely nursery rhyme if you take it as read and don't think about the true meaning :0)
Claire Goverts said…
Great idea for a theme and I enjoyed reading about the crooked man.

Claire's Writing Log
Twitter: @ClaireGoverts
Colin Smith said…
Some nursery rhymes are based in history or folklore. But I wonder with some of them if people read too much into them, looking to make them fit a historical circumstance. Sometimes they are just funny little rhymes that fire the imagination.
MOV said…
great post! love those childhood rhymes. :)

(I am doing a to z with a travel theme)
Denise said…
Hi Claire, thanks. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Good luck with the challenge!

Hi Colin, you're absolutely right. I think people do tend to try to make more of things than maybe had been intended originally. I find the same thing with poetry, painting etc.

For this challenge I have tried to choose the nursery rhymes which historians and folklorists have previously looked into to find the historical connections. Equally there are many others out there which were purely made up to entertain children, either through alliteration such as 'Diddle, Diddle, Dumpling', a rhyme for which no-one can find any historical connections or onomatopoeia where they learn about animal sounds.

Even when I know the story behind a nursery rhyme, to be honest, I still like to take them at face value in the same way that I did when I was a child :-)
Denise said…
Hi MOV. I love them too. Nothing to do with the history behind them either. Even when I was a little girl I just loved nursery rhymes.

Just off to look at your blog :)
John Teal said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Teal said…
It's a small world, as a fellow A-Z blogger I followed a link to this post from


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