Please will you let one of playmates...come and play with us?

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A Childhood playground game of North Nottinghamshire

By R B Parish

Noted contributor to local notes and queries, Thomas Ratcliffe records in 1864 a North Nottinghamshire childhood game, he does not give its name and I have been unable to find reference to it elsewhere. 

The authority on the subject, Opie and Opie (1959) does not include it, but it is an interesting ‘ritual’ being as it does introduce the children to the aspects of courtship if rather now rather unfashionable and sexist to say the least.

The children divide into two parties-boys and girls. The girls seat themselves in a row on the ‘green grass’ with one of them called the “mother” being the point of communication between the boys and girls and sits in the centre. The boys stand in a row facing the girls and hold hands and begin to pace three or four paces forward and backward, reciting to a tune:

“Stepping o’er the green grass,

Thus and thus and thus (with suitable action).

Please will you let one of your playmates (Stapleton adds daughters?),

Come out to play with us?”

To the request, the “mother” says ‘No’. The boys (all the while keeping up the rhythmical motion) reply to this refusal:

“We will give you pots and pans,

And we will give you brass,

And we will give you anything,

All for the pretty lass!”

To this the “mother” again says ‘No’ and the boys continue:

“We will give you gold and silver,

We will give you pearl,

And we will give you everything,

All for a pretty girl!”

The “mother” cannot now refuse, so her answer is ‘yes’. A boy chooses his girl and then the all join hands and dance around in a circle chanting:

“She shall gallop and she shall trot,

She shall carry the mustard pot.

All around the chimney pot. With a hi! Ho! Hum!”

After dancing for some more they begun the game again. It would be interesting to know whether a form of this rhyme still exists or existed within more recent times in the county and the author would be interested to know of this or other such childhood rhymes.

The author is preparing a book on Nottinghamshire folklore. Any correspondence on this matter is greatly received.


Opie, P., and Opie, I (1959) The Lore of the Playground.

Ratcliffe, T., (1864) Local notes and queries

This page was added by R B Parish on 18/02/2013.

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