Winchester Goose

Winchester Goose

Graphite and pastel on paper – 44 x 65 cm

“Goosey Goosey Gander wither shall I wander, Upstairs, downstairs, in my lady’s chamber There I met an old man who wouldn’t say his prayers I took him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs.”

This well-known nursery rhyme dates back to the 16th century. At this time, due to Henry VIII breaking away from the Catholic Church, Catholic priests were unpopular. Many were thought to be corrupt and this included questioning their vow of celibacy. At the time, and in the Bishop of Winchester’s Diocese in Southwark, ‘Goose’ was a colloquial term for prostitute. In this rhyme the priest has been caught in a prostitute’s bed chamber. One way to test if a man was a Catholic priest was to have him recite the new, English prayers rather than the old Latin ones. In this case, the priest refuses, or can’t, and is thrown down the stairs. I too wrote a short poem to accompany my drawing:

Goose was not chaste,
But she was less two-faced,
Than the Priest and the Judge,
Presiding over her case,
Inside the Double Standard.

SJL, 2017

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