- Mary, Mary Quite Contrary
Again, this nursery rhyme references the famous Queen Bloody Mary Tudor, known for killing and torturing Protestants. In this rhyme, the garden refers to her ever growing graveyard of Protestant martyrs. The silver bells and cockle shells were instruments of torture she used upon them before her prisoners were killed. Silver bells were thumbscrews used to crush the victims’ thumbs between a hard surface, screwing it down tighter and tighter until the thumbs don’t look like thumbs anymore. The cockle shells were attached to the victims’ genitalia. The maids in this rhyme refer to the guillotine nicknamed, “The Maiden”, shortened to “The Maid.” And if that isn’t already bad enough, the guillotines during this time weren’t as sharp as their modern contemporaries and would require as much as 11 strikes to completely sever the head from the body.
Want more of these creepy nursery rhyme back-stories? Watch the full video here.