This not so innocent rhyme is said to be a rather sinister play on words based on the dreadful pain and suffering caused to so many people during the Great Plague. The ring of roses was the red rash that was often one of the first signs of this terrible disease.
A posy of herbs was thought to bring protection against the disease because one belief was that warding off bad smells in the towns would defend against it.
Once the sneezing and coughing began they formed the final fatal symptoms.because it was believed the ill person would soon die, therefore ‘we all fall down.’
The strong belief is there is no doubt this rhyme arose from the Great Plague; an outbreak of bubonic and pneumonic plague that affected London in the year 1665. How it became a rhyme for children to sing and dance to is quite unexpected!