The last few weeks I have been making bird baths for the Bishops Palace English Country Garden Festival in Wells this weekend. Today was the first day but you still have a chance to come along tomorrow or Sunday!
I thought how nice it would be to make some work based on a garden theme and remembered that old traditional English nursery rhyme …
“Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells,
And Pretty Maids all in a row”
I have read that there are different views about the meaning of the rhyme, some say it was about the reign of Mary Queen of Scots, while others believe it was about Mary Tudor. The rhyme might suggest religious metaphors of Catholicism (silver bells) and maybe the pretty maids all in a row symbolise the rows of Protestants that were executed by Mary Tudor.
However if the rhyme was written not long before it was first published in 1744 then this would be unlikely as both queens reigned in the sixteenth century. But then it could have been written earlier …
I find it interesting that many traditional nursery rhymes appear to be all sweet and innocent but turn out to reveal a much more sinister meaning.
However I made these bird baths in all sweetness and light, taking the nursery rhyme only as it reads!
They are all hand formed shapes (some using a mould and some without) using cement mortar mixtures.
Here is a collection of the baths at the garden festival.
Silver bells, cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row, displayed in different ways, on cobbles, terracotta drainpipes, slates and balustrade plinths to help customers imagine ways they could place them in their gardens …
Silver Bells, Cockle Shells and Pretty Maids All in a Row at the Bishops Palace
And Pretty Maids All in a Row
And a flower bowl
At the Bishops Palace
Click here if you would like to know more about the English Country Garden Festival and visit.