English Language and History .com is a collection of two-minute tales drawn from history, myth and fiction. Each tale is accompanied by word games testing grammar and expression, based on textbooks used in British schools from the 1920s to the 1960s.

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

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘County Durham’ (12 posts)
page 1
1 The Legend of Pollard’s Lands
An enterprising knight rids the Bishop of Durham of a troublesome boar, but the price comes as a shock to his lordship.
2 The Stockton and Darlington Railway
George Stephenson and his son Robert created the world’s first passenger railway.
3 The Hetton Railway
The railway earned a special place in history as the first to be designed for steam locomotives only.
4 The Lessons of History
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
England’s first and greatest historian explains why history is so important.
5 The Man who Made the Headlines
William Stead conceived modern print journalism in the belief that newspapers could change the world.
6 Silver Swan
By Mark Twain
(1835-1910)
Mark Twain’s attention was drawn off people-watching for a moment by an extraordinarily lifelike machine.
page 2
7 Cuthbert and the Expert Witness
Based on the account by Reginald of Durham
(12th century)
A hungry monk thought he had got away with the tastiest of crimes, but St Cuthbert kept his promise to his beloved birds.
8 The Tanfield Railway
Opened in 1725, the Tanfield Railway is one of the oldest railways still operating anywhere in the world.
9 The Lambton Worm
Part One. John Lambton goes fishing on a Sunday, and lets loose all kinds of trouble.
10 Timothy Hackworth
Timothy Hackworth (1786-1850) turned steam locomotives into a reliable commercial success.
11 Mrs Clements
Mrs Clements of Durham is not a household name, but the product she invented is.
12 How St Benedict Biscop brought Byzantium to Britain
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The chapel of Bede’s monastery in Sunderland was full of the colours and sounds of the far-off Mediterranean world.

Word Play: Verb or Noun?

Use each of the words below once as a noun and once as a verb:

Book. Name. Read.

New Stories
The only truly global conflict in history began when German troops crossed into Poland in September 1939.
By Richard Cobden
(1804-1865)
Richard Cobden questioned both the wisdom and the motives of politicians who intervene on foreign soil.
To the poor of England, the Worcestershire man gave affordable pots and pans, and to all the world he gave the industrial revolution.
After Louis XIV’s grandson Philip inherited the throne of Spain, the ‘Sun King’ began to entertain dreams of Europe-wide dominion.
New Puzzles
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.
Try writing complete sentences using these nouns as either the subject or the object of a verb.
Try writing complete sentences using these verbs in either the active or the passive voice.
Polyword ‘Mile’
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
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
Do you know ‘rim’ (4 letters), and ‘the Roman name for Chester’ (4 letters)?
Do you know ‘complaint’ (4 letters), and ‘be the right size and shape for a space’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘a brilliant solo passage in a concerto’ (7 letters), and ‘e.g. lion, tiger’ (3,3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with COAL and finish with FIRE.
top topics
History (359)
Fiction (77)

letters game

Make words from two or more of the tiles below. What is the highest-scoring word you can make?

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

More like this: ‘Scrabble’ letters game Games with Words

numbers game

Make the total shown using two or more of the numbers underneath it. You can add, subtract, divide and multiply. Use any number once only.

More like this: Maths Gym Mental arithmetic