Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

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Latest
The Arts of Fair Rowena
two-part story
Music: George Frideric Handel
Charles Dickens believed that Britain’s Saxon invaders gained power by force of arms – but not by weapons.
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

THEY sent a letter to Rome entreating help — which they called the Groans of the Britons; and in which they said, ‘The barbarians chase us into the sea, the sea throws us back upon the barbarians, and we have only the hard choice left us of perishing by the sword, or perishing by the waves.’

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Five Posts
Lessons in British values for a Future King
Music: Thomas Arne
‘Rule Britannia’ was a discreet way of telling a German prince what was expected of a British King.
Music by Thomas Arne
(1710-1778)

THOMAS Arne’s Masque ‘Alfred’ was first performed for Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1740.

It was a drama about King Alfred, who in the 9th century defeated the invading Danes, united the petty kingdoms of England, and established the first English navy.

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King Alfred and the Beggar
two-part story
Music: Francesco Geminiani
An everyday act of charity triggered off a series of extraordinary events.
Based on the ‘Historia de Sancto Cuthberto’
(11th century)

EARLY in his reign, King Alfred was driven out of the Kingdom of Wessex by the invading Danes.

With a handful of loyal men, he took refuge in a house in Glastonbury, which at that time was a hill completely surrounded by water.

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Kings and Queens: Alfred to Ethelred
thirteen-part story
Music: Thomas Arne; Edvard Grieg; Jean-Baptiste Lully; Malcolm Arnold; Ralph Vaughan Williams; Sir Arthur Sullivan; Ralph Vaughan Williams; William Byrd; John Playford; Henry Purcell; George Frideric Handel; Muzio Clementi; Ronald Binge
England’s rulers from the only one named ‘the Great’, to the king who lost his crown to the Danes.

THE first steps towards a Kingdom of England were taken by Alfred the Great, King of Wessex on the south coast.

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How Alfred Burnt the Cakes
A popular tale of scorched cakes and a scolded king.
By Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)

ALFRED was only twenty-two years old when he came to the throne, and the kingdom was overrun everywhere with the Danes.

At last he had so very few faithful men left him, that he thought it wise to send them away, and take refuge in the Somersetshire marsh country.

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Alfred Learns To Read
Music: Sir William Sterndale Bennett
Even as a child, King Alfred couldn’t resist a challenge.
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

AT twelve years old, Alfred had not been taught to read; although, of the sons of King Ethelwulf, he, the youngest, was the favourite.

But he had — as most men who grow up to be great and good are generally found to have had — an excellent mother.

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AZ Index

See a complete A-Z List of all the stories on this website.

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Stuart Era’ (14 posts)
page 1
1 The Winter Queen
Conspiracies and dynastic expectations swirled around James I’s daughter from the age of nine.
2 Abraham Darby I
To the poor of England, the Worcestershire man gave affordable pots and pans, and to all the world he gave the industrial revolution.
3 The War of the Spanish Succession
After Louis XIV’s grandson Philip inherited the throne of Spain, the ‘Sun King’ began to entertain dreams of Europe-wide dominion.
4 Why England’s ‘Revolution’ was Glorious
By Edmund Burke
(1729-1797)
Edmund Burke argues that England’s ‘revolution’ of 1688 worked because we changed the Government, not the Constitution.
5 Charles I and his Parliament
Charles took his rights and duties as a King with religious seriousness, but Parliament’s sense of both right and duty was just as strong.
6 Interregnum
When Parliament overthrew the capricious tyranny of Charles I, it discovered an uncomfortable truth about power.
page 2
7 The Last Days of Charles II
James calls Fr Huddleston to his brother’s deathbed, ready for a most delicate task.
8 The Great Fire of London
A four-day fire in September 1666 swept the capital, and King Charles II played a heroic part as a firefighter.
9 The Love of the Lindseys
Based on an account by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
Young Montague Bertie, Lord Willougby, tended his dying father behind enemy lines.
10 Dud Dudley: Iron Man
The 17th-century entrepreneur developed a way of smelting iron with coke rather than charcoal, but the Civil War frustrated his plans.
11 The ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688
King James II was forced off the throne in favour of his daughter Mary, and a new English constitution was born.
12 Gunpowder, Treason and Plot
Only an anonymous tip-off prevented England losing her sovereignty as well as her King.
page 3
13 An Agent of the Crown
Rascally republican Thomas Blood was usually to be found in any conspiracy against the King, but even when he stole the Crown Jewels the King never seemed to mind...
14 The Tale of Beggar’s Bridge
The proof of Thomas Ferres’s rags-to-riches tale is quite literally written in stone, but popular lore adds some tantalising and romantic detail.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Spinner

Use these words together in a single sentence:

Letter. Smiling. Hearing.

JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Wide’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with STAR and finish with DUST.
Do you know ‘beg’ (7 letters), and ‘a single game in the sport of darts’ (3 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Do you know ‘popular Asian chilled fruit drink’ (7 letters), and ‘bear witness’ (6 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
top topics
History (379)
Fiction (82)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: Longest Word (Letters Game) Games with Words

numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic