This old nonsense rhyme is probably just that – nonsense, however, some people have suggested that the cat is Elizabeth Ist and the dog is Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester who she once referred to as her ‘lap dog.’
Hey, Diddle Diddle was a new dance accompanied by a fiddle according to a play written by Thomas Preston in 1569.
There is also a theory that the characters in this rhyme are actually constellations of stars, and the line, ‘the dish ran away with the spoon’ relates to the stars disappearing over the horizon.
Another theory of the origin for this rhyme is that the song is named after an old-fashioned pub crawl along the A537 Macclesfield to Buxton road in Cheshire/Derbyshire UK. The pubs featured in the nursery rhyme were built in the early 1700s by wealthy stone quarry owners.
Hey, Diddle Diddle The Cat and the Fiddle = The Cat and Fiddle public house, which is still trading.
The cow jumped over the moon = the Half Moon pub, which ceased trading long ago.
The little dog laughed to see such fun (The Setter Dog public house, which ceased trading in 2002, was built in 1740).
And the dish ran away with the spoon (The Dish and Spoon public house, which in very recent years has changed its name, currently Peak View Tearooms).
The pubs are about 6 miles apart.
Hey Diddle Diddle Lyrics
Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.