I am keen on knowing answers to questions that are not the every day topics of conversation.  Some times totally useless stuff, some times things that are packed with either interest, intrigue, or the “Ah ha!” factor if true, or  some times  if the topic is a myth… I like it even better!

So wanna know what I have been interested in today? Have you ever wondered what the nursery rhyme “Hey diddle diddle…” was all about…?  ummm, I guess I hadn’t given it much thought either, we tend to trot out these rhymes when our children are small,  just accept the words, and consider they are “kids stuff”  a bit of nonsense!


Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon,

The little dog laughed to see such fun,

And the dish ran away with the spoon…

The rhyme is said to originate in the beautiful countryside around the area of Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire, came to be written soon after the dissolution in the year 1539.  However if you google the  rhyme, there are other versions of how this weird and wonderful collection of line have been put into a timeless ditty.

So, the explanation I like the best is…

Prior Moone was the last prior of Bolton Abbey (by the way it is a Priory not an Abbey – I will explain in my snippet at the end of the blog)  on vacating his office, he  settled with members of his family who held and farmed land in the area of the priory … the present Moone’s are descendants from him.

Another family in the area, namely the Heys sported  friendly rivalry with the Moones, both family’s wishing to rank higher than the other in the district.  This tussle was watched by the amusement of the villagers and hence the rhyme was created from this era.

To follow, my collection of pictures that I have snapped from things handy… I grant you, not particulary in keeping with those associated with the rhyme!  Hey ho!

“Hey diddle diddle” was referring to the Heys family, who is said to have diddled (stolen) live stock from the Moone family.  Or,  it is said that diddle  was an Elizabethan nonsense term (maybe similar to how we say thing-a-ma-bob?)

The cat and the fiddle, “Cato Fidelis” meaning – faithful of Christ and the Church.  As both families were devote to the church, this is where this phrase comes in.



The cow… the Heys family were cattle farmers (where apparently the Moones were sheep farmers, however no sheep mentioned in the rhyme)


The little dog laughed… when Prior Moone started to build the West Tower of the Priory in 1520, (still unfinished in 1539) he had constructed  two buttresses at the front of the tower, each with a stone dog sitting on the top (which can still be seen today)  “When the little dog laughed” it was to infer that the whole community was amused.


The dish ran away with the spoon… The Heys were almost hereditary officers of the church for the collections of offerings, hence the connection with the alms DISH. The Moones, likewise were almost hereditary holders of the office of the Anointing SPOON, hence this connection, some thing that would have been understood by all at that period in the Bolton Abbey area.


All this research about this particular rhyme reminded me of a little dress I bought for my then teeny weeny little daughter (she is now 20!) which I have kept all these years,  just because it was so unusual and extremely expensive as I remember!


Really bright and colourful, she got quite a bit of attention when she wore it…


Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,


The cow jumped over the moon,


The little dog laughed to see such fun,


And the dish ran away with the spoon…

Thanks for stopping by, would love to hear from you…

Bye, Jay x

As promised:-

Little snippet for you from Snoo “Do you know the difference between an Abbey and Priory?  an Abbey ranks higher than a Priory”


One thought on “HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE…?

  1. Hallo Jay. I have been waiting for your next blog with great interest. And I am not disappointed. Great and something that I did not know. Lovely dress by the way, I bet she looked fantastic it it, quite like one myself! Maxie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s