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Lucy Locket was a barmaid and some-time prostitute.When one of her wealthy lovers (the ‘pocket’) lost all his money, she dropped him like a hot potato, only to learn afterwards that her rival, Kitty Fisher, had taken up with him despite his poverty (‘not a penny’).

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The bells belong to famous churches in London; it’s possible that these were the churches a condemned man would pass, on his way to his execution.

St Clemens, the first church, is likely that in Eastcheap.

The first verse describes the cheapest food available; the narrator of the poem has no money, so ‘pop’ goes the weasel. The third verse is a bit more obscure than the first two; a monkey is slang for a tankard, while knocking off a stick was slang for drinking.

The second verse describes a night out at a music hall called the Eagle Tavern, which was located on the City Road. The last verse probably refers to the narrator’s day job.

Say the bells of Old Bailey, When I grow rich Say the bells of Shoreditch, When will that be?

Say the bells of Stepney, I do not know Says the great bell of Bow, Here comes a candle to light you to bed And here comes a chopper To chop off your head! The second part of this rhyme is a clue to the purpose of the first part – the poor fellow ends up dead!

George Villiers was likely a bisexual, who had an intense and fairly well-documented attachment to the king.

King James was extremely fond of George, and gave him money and titles.

Not a penny was there in it, Only a ribbon around it.

Both Lucy and Kitty were real people, back in the 18th century.

The Eastcheap docks saw the unloading of cargo from the Mediterranean – often including oranges and lemons.

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