Friday, 11 April 2014

J is for 'Jack and Jill'

Starting with the local dialect words for today.  Do you know what jarl means? What is a jaw bit? What does jee mean?  The answers will be at the end of this post.

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Up Jack got, and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper.
He went to bed to mend his head
With vinegar and brown paper.

When Jill came in how she did grin
To see Jack's paper plaster;
Mother vexed, did whip her next
For causing Jack's disaster.

This rhyme was part of everyone's childhood, something we all knew the words and tune to as small children and which had been passed on from generation to generation. It's true origins are unknown but there are plenty of theories!

The theory that I'm interested in is the claim by a nearby village that the antics of two of its former residents is recorded in the rhyme. The village in question, Kilmersdon (about 12 miles south west, over the border in Somerset), believes that in 1697 a local spinster, Jill (Gill), had an affair with a local man, Jack.  They used to sneak up the hill for some 'time alone together', if you get my meaning! Sadly, their story doesn't have a happy ending - Jill got pregnant and died in childbirth leaving behind a son, and Jack tragically died when he was hit by a falling rock.  The occurrence of a surname which is thought to have originated in this area - Gilson (Gill's son) is supposed to provide some proof of this tale.

I have to say I'm not really convinced by the claim, but the village have turned it into a tourist attraction.  There are plenty of signs to lead you to the hill ...

Then there is the Jack and Jill Hill ...
At the bottom, looking up 
at the top, looking down

(the well was built as part of the village's millennium celebrations)

The local village school is at the top of the hill and it continues the Jack and Jill theme ...

Here are the answers to the dialect words: 

  • jarl - to quarrel
  • jaw bit - food eaten in the fields by labourers
  • jee - to agree

Hope to see you tomorrow for the letter K.


  1. oh I am so glad I came to visit your page. I like the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme and it would be such fun to visit a town that claims it as their own.

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog (A Bench with A View) and your comment. Wow, this was fascinating to read about. I liked learning the new words/jargon; that was a cute idea to include in your theme. I didn't know this "tourist attraction" existed from this simple nursery rhyme. It does sound like a plausible story for why it was written and an interesting place to visit. I'm sure if I was in your "neck of the woods" I would have to go and see this for myself!

    Good luck with the rest of the challenge!


  3. Every time I read another of your posts for the challenge, I feel as if I'm 'seeing' and learning more of the world. It's such an amazing and ancient part of the world that you write about and it all fascinates me. I'm so glad I've found your blog :)

  4. Woah that's cool! I wanna visit!

  5. I've done some reading on nursery rhymes, but Jack and Jill apparently wasn't included, because everything in your post except the first verse of the rhyme was new to me. What a fun little tourist attraction!