16. The Mulberry Bush

This is the Way

Lyrics: The Mulberry Bush

Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush,
Here we go round the mulberry bush.
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we wash our hands,
Wash our hands, wash our hands,
This is the way we wash our hands,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we wash our clothes.
Wash our clothes, wash our clothes,
This is the way we wash our clothes,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we go to school,
Go to school, go to school,
This is the way we go to school,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we come out of school,
Come out of school, come out of school,
This is the way we come out of school,
On a cold and frosty morning.

Song

This is a nursery rhyme and singing game. Similar to “Here we go round the bramble bush” which may be an earlier version, possibly changed because of the difficulty of the alliteration, since mulberries do not grow on bushes.

The song and associated game is traditional, and has parallels in Scandinavia and in the Netherlands (the bush is a juniper in Scandinavia).

Local historian R. S. Duncan suggests that the song originated with female prisoners at HMP Wakefield. A sprig was taken from Hatfeild Hall (Normanton Golf Club) in Stanley, Wakefield, and grew into a fully mature mulberry tree around which prisoners exercised in the moonlight. The mulberry tree died during 2017 and was cut down and removed on 7 May 2019. Cuttings were taken during the 1980s and have grown into mature trees. Further cuttings taken from these trees will be replanted at HMP Wakefield to replace the mulberry tree. (source)