Oranges & Lemons - St Clement's Danes

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Incident Report Description

This location is supposedly where a great battle occurred between Viking raiders and King Alfred the Great.

During the Anglo-Saxon period, the new settlers felt old Londinium to be off-limits and instead settled along what today is the Strand. Norse Danelaw settlers were allowed into the area as long as they married into Saxon families. Reputably the church was an early burial ground for these Danish nobles.

Harold Harefoot, son of Danish King Canute is purported to have been buried on this site in 1040 AD, but then was disinterred and thrown into the marshes bordering the Thames.

The church is best known for the classic nursery rhyme-

"Bull's eyes and targets,
Say the bells of St Margaret's.

Brickbats and tiles,
Say the bells of St Giles'.

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St Clement's.

Pancake and fritters,
Say the bells of St Peter's.

Two sticks and an apple
Say the bells of Whitechapel.

Old Father Baldpate,
Say the bells at Aldgate.

Maids in white aprons,
Say the bells of St Catherine's.

Pokers and tongs,
Say the bells of St John's.

Kettles and pans,
Say the bells at St Anne's.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St Martin's.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells at Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells at Shoreditch.

Pray, when will that be?
Say the bells at Stepney.

I'm sure I don't know,
Say the great bell at Bow".

It was rebuilt in the 1680s by Sir Christopher Wren. Today it is the central commemoration chapel for the Royal Air Force.
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