Game name (and type): 'The Farmer in the Dell' (rhyme)
Alternative type: language play, chasing game

Handwritten description of the rhyming game 'The Farmer in the Dell' composed for Dr Dorothy Howard by Mary McGowran, a ten year old student at Cherry Gardens School, on 7 March 1955. To play, McGowran writes that nine or more players are required to stand in a circle with one, the 'farmer', in the centre. As the players sing the accompanying rhyme, the 'farmer' slowly gathers a 'wife', 'child', 'nurse', 'dog', 'cat', 'rat', 'mouse' and finally 'cheese' from the circle. Rather than entering the centre, the 'cheese' runs around the outside of the circle with the other players taking up the chase.

One of a collection of letters describing a children's games written to children's Folklorist Dorothy Howard between 1954 and 1955. Dr Howard came to Australia in 1954-55 as an American Fulbright scholar to study Australian children's folklore. She travelled across Australia for 10 months collecting children's playground rhymes, games, play artefacts, etc. This letter, together with the other original fieldwork collected by Dr Howard during this period, is preserved in the Dorothy Howard Collection manuscript files, part of the Australian Children's Folklore Collection (ACFC), Archive Series 3. The ACFC is an extensive collection documenting children's folklore and related research.

Physical Description

Handwritten game description in blue ink on lined paper. Features hand drawn diagram on reverse. Text printed on both sides of page.

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