There was a lovely Princess



This footage was filmed in London in 1957 and shows a group of girls performing the singing game ‘There was a Lovely Princess’. This song is clearly a variation of the singing game ‘Fair Rosie’ or ‘Fair Rosa’ and is sung to the same melody and shares similar lyrics. The song is based around the story of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and follows the narrative of her imprisonment in the tower, pricking her finger, falling asleep and being saved by her prince.

Roud estimates that the song has been sung in Britain for over 100 years, and explains that it derived from the poem ‘Little Rose Thorn was a Beautiful Child’, translated from German and published in Britain in around 1908. When the Opies wrote about this game in 1986, it was enjoying a ‘vigorous life’ on playgrounds and streets. Although the game is perhaps not as wide spread as it was, Roud suggests that ‘Fair Rosa’ will continue to exist for a few more generations as it features on the extremely popular children’s DVD Pop Go the Wiggles (2008) by the Wiggles.




I’m being the witch.

All: [Singing].

There was a lovely princess, a princess, a princess,
There was a lovely princess, long, long ago.
She lives in a high tower, high tower, high tower,
She lives in a high tower, long, long ago.
Her witch came into to see her, long, long ago.
She pricked her little finger, her finger, her finger,
she pricked her little finger, long, long ago.
She fell asleep for 100 years, 100 years, 100 years,
she fell asleep for 100 years long, long ago.
The trees grew all around her, long, long ago.
Her handsome prince came riding by, riding by, riding by,
Her handsome prince came riding by, long, long ago.
He chopped the trees down one by one, one by one, one by one,
he chopped the trees down one by one, long, long ago.
He kissed her hand to wake her, long, long ago.
There was a happy wedding, a wedding, a wedding,
There was a happy wedding long, long ago.

There was a lovely Princess
© British Film Institute
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British Film Institute

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