Rub a dub rub and 3 men in a tub. Yes you may recall it in childhood as a rhyme chanted in play. Yet its not all it seems as innocent .As with so many remembered nursery rhymes hidden details and meanings exist.
In fact this rhyme began circulation in 14th century England. It was exposure of sorts by broad sheet city reporters at Spitalfields fair in London suburbs.
It began as three naked maids in a tub relaxing .This a site for paying customers to witness. When the Butcher and his two friends baker and candlemaker decided to jump in and join the naked girls and playing with their own privates in public before being removed by show owners.
So somewhere in that audience sat a reporter who gave us rub a dub rub ,relating to the mens fondling of both own privates and girls bare breasts this poem first saw light as degrading actions of three trades men of the city guild. It made good headlines on many broad sheets published and sold around that part of the city.It did not take long to travel all over London.
When a book was published in 18th century all rhymes were added as chant type children poems. This was to be copied by many generations down to today. So three maids in tub,a fair ground act to bring in men to pay to watch girls naked in play on a dish type bed or a large wooden bucket depending which part of London that fairs went. This intervention by local tradesman over heated in summer heat and sexual desire decided to take part with the ladies would have perhaps gone un noticed by time as a sub event.If not for a man who saw it and saw cash reward for the story of 3 dignities in an act of sexual frustration .It my have passed our attention if not for the way report hit the news. Rub a dub dub 3 maids in a tub became 3 men in tub for Victorian children writers who had not a clue what it meant .
I was told as child it related to Victoria Falls barrel with woman in it. Went over fall in record attempt. This event really took place and the woman survived which is amazing. But it has no foundation in this poem. Researching it last summer led to the 1389 record of the report before court of public exposure of three local tradesmen and the fair ground sex scandal charge. Cross checked to broadsheet public records made it all clear to the origin on this nursery rhyme told to millions of children through out time as just a poem .What perhaps made this work as Edward Lear and his nonsense poems that did not need an explanation .So no one since ever questioned it. Then I as a child wanted answers for everything and still do in fact. Makes for a lively mind and the need to know everything . Can be a bit excessive really but its me.
Research finds truth not talk by historians copying pages from someone else who stole it from another book .Over time history fades into common chatter and becomes another story told.
All historians are guilty of it at some point as research will not pay the bills .One of the few who research fully is Alison Wear and I read all her works willingly but always recheck all details I have not record of.
God bless all.
copyright Kevin Parr Bt 2021 20th Nov