The Grand Old Duke of York

Oh, the grand old duke of york, he had ten thousand men!
Find out what this nursery rhyme is about in this video.
He marched them up to the top of the hill, and he marched them down again.
And when they were up they were up, and when they were down they were down.
And when they were only halfway up, they were neither up nor down.

Music by

Frederick, duke of York, was the second son of the mad King George the third and he did indeed command ten thousand men because he was commander in chief of the British army during the Napoleonic wars.

However, he wasn’t very popular and resigned amongst all sorts of financial scandals and problems with his mistress.
The trouble was when his brother wanted to build a monument to him no one wanted to pay for it, so without consulting Parliament they decided to dock the wages of every soldier in the British army to finance it.
This went down badly and so they said he was all the way up there on his perch to avoid his debtors and also because he smelled!
The nursery rhyme however was more about one of his disorganised campaigns which wasn’t really his fault.

Get directions with Citymapper

Please leave a comment and subscribe! or follow me…

Rather Splendid London Walks Book

In this book of 20 walks, I will show you some of the fun, interesting, weird and ridiculous things I’ve noticed on my travels around London