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English Language and History

The brief stories below are taken from history, myth or fiction. Each one is accompanied by games and exercises in essential grammar and free composition, based on old school textbooks.

A to Z Index

The Legend of Pollard’s Lands
two-part story
Music: George Frideric Handel
An enterprising knight rids the Bishop of Durham of a troublesome boar, but the price comes as a shock to his lordship.

THE estates around Auckland Castle, seat of the Bishops of Durham, were troubled by a wild boar, so much so that the Bishop and even the King had each put up a princely reward for his head.

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How Brutus of Troy Became Britain’s First King
Music: Henry Purcell
An early mediaeval myth linking British civilization to the Fall of Troy.

BRUTUS was a prince of Italy, and the great-grandson of Aeneas, the hero of Troy.

One day, Brutus shot his own father in a hunting accident, and fled to Greece. There he found many of his fellow Trojans, still oppressed by the Greeks who had tamed them so long before.

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William of Cloudsley
Music: John Playford
William is Cumbria’s very own blend of Robin Hood and William Tell - with a happy ending, too.

WILLIAM of Cloudsley, Clym of the Clough, and Adam Bell, had been poaching deer, and were wanted men. But William could not resist a few hours snatched at home with his wife Alice, and their three children.

There William was captured, though not before shooting dozens dead, and sent to Carlisle jail.

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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
two-part story
Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams
A knight issues a bizarre challenge to King Arthur and his court.

ONE New Year’s Eve, a knight rode into King Arthur’s hall. His clothes and armour were all green; even his skin was green.

Anyone who wished, cried the strange knight, could take one free swing at him with an axe — provided that he could then do the same in return.

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The Knight, the Lady, and the Forest of Sorrow
Music: Francesco Geminiani
A little fable of encouragement for all the suffering.
Based on a fable by Jerome K. Jerome
(1859-1927)

ONCE upon a time, a company of knights rode upon the marches of a thick forest. Night lay upon it, and whoever turned aside from that path was held fast in its thorny briars, and lost in its darkness.

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Robin Hood and the Debt of Honour
three-part story
Music: Richard Jones
The outlaw showed that strange as it may be, he did have a code of honour.

IT was Robin Hood’s custom to waylay a knight on the road, and invite him to dinner. As they finished their wine, Robin would ask how much money his guest was carrying, and if he lied, a tut-tutting Robin confiscated it.

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The Lambton Worm
two-part story
Music: Malcolm Arnold
Part One. John Lambton goes fishing on a Sunday, and lets loose all kinds of trouble.

ONE Sunday morning, John, the young heir of Lambton Hall, skipped Mass and went fishing in the Wear. No good could come of that, and no good did.

That morning, he hooked only an ugly-looking worm, tossed it with disgust down a well, and promptly forgot about it.

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All Posts
Tagged British Myths and Legends (11 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 Legend of King Leir
An early British king discovers what he is really worth to his daughters.
3 King Arthur’s Last Request
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)
The legendary British warrior makes ready for his final journey, leaving Sir Bedivere with one last duty to perform.
4 Cap o’ Rushes
A girl’s choice of words sees her turned out of hearth and home.
5 Robin Hood and the Debt of Honour
The outlaw showed that strange as it may be, he did have a code of honour.
6 The Knight, the Lady, and the Forest of Sorrow
Based on a fable by Jerome K. Jerome
(1859-1927)
A little fable of encouragement for all the suffering.
page 2
7 The Legend of Beowulf
The oldest surviving heroic legend in English begins with a wild creature of the fens that hunts men for prey.
8 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
A knight issues a bizarre challenge to King Arthur and his court.
9 How Brutus of Troy Became Britain’s First King
An early mediaeval myth linking British civilization to the Fall of Troy.
10 The Lambton Worm
Part One. John Lambton goes fishing on a Sunday, and lets loose all kinds of trouble.
11 William of Cloudsley
William is Cumbria’s very own blend of Robin Hood and William Tell - with a happy ending, too.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Subject and Object

Use each of the words below as either the subject or the object of a verb.

Company. Wave. Star.

The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone explains that a truly ‘exceptional nation’ respects the equality and rights of all nations.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
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 ‘Seraph’
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
Add one number to another number. See how quickly you can solve the sums.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
A word-making game based on the popular board game.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (375)
Fiction (80)

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.

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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