When I was a boy growing up in England, we learned some wonderful historic facts and antecedents. Among them were the following:
One of the earliest versions of the London Bridge was destroyed in 1014 when the Saxons rowed up the Thames, tied ropes to it, and pulled it down! This helped regain London for the Anglo-Saxon king against the Danes. It is possible that this event may have been the inspiration for the nursery rhyme “London Bridge is falling down”.
Berengaria of Navarre was the Queen of England by her marriage to King Richard, known as The Lionheart. She was the only Queen of England that never set foot in England! The entire time that she was married to Richard, she lived in Europe.
The Middle English term “pygg” referred to a type of clay. In the middle ages, people would often keep coins in jars or pots made of pygg – these were called “pygg jars”. By the 18th century, these came to be known as a “pig bank” or “piggy bank”.
In the England of 1066, everyone born had just one name. When surnames were introduced they would often include a nickname – such as Robert Red (symbolic of his hair color). If Robert went bald over time, his name could change to “Robert Ball” (ball meaning bald in Middle English). In time, people took the same name as their father – giving us the modern surname system.
Now if I could only think of a good story for my schoolboy nickname…!
***This article was written by one of our contributing writers: Malcolm Noden