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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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The Lion of Piraeus
Music: John Jenkins
A marble statue in Venice bears witness to Europe’s long history of brave defeats and fruitless victories.

THE Arsenal at Venice is graced by two marble lions looted by Venetian commander Francesco Morsini from Piraeus, near Athens, in 1687. The lions, already a feature of the Greek port for fifteen centuries, were his trophies following a brief liberation of Athens and the Peloponnese from the Ottoman Empire.

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Five Posts
An Agent of the Crown
Music: Sir William Walton
Why was rascally republican Thomas Blood never punished for his conspiracies against Charles II?

AFTER the restoration of King Charles II in 1660, one of Oliver Cromwell’s old lieutenants, Thomas Blood, was living in Dublin.

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The Great Fire of London
A four-day fire in 1666 swept the capital, and King Charles II played a heroic part as a firefighter.

THE Great Fire of London began in a bakery on Pudding Lane, near London Bridge, on September 2nd 1666.

With a strong east wind fanning the flames from house to house (one could shake hands across the street from some upper-storey windows), soon the fire was out of control.

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The Price of Treachery
Music: Niels Gade
A Danish soldier in the seventeenth century imposes the severest sentence he can think of.
Based on an account by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)

A DANISH soldier from Flensburg was awaiting medical attention in the company of a bottle of beer when he turned to see a wounded Swede lying near him. So he cradled the man’s head and plied his bottle.

At that moment, there was a sharp crack! and a searing pain in his shoulder. The Swede had shot him. ‘Rascal!’ cried our kindly Dane, ‘for that you must be punished.’

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Interregnum
two-part story
Music: John Playford
When Parliament overthrew the capricious tyranny of Charles I, it discovered an uncomfortable truth about power.

ON 1642, the English Parliament’s dispute with King Charles I over the extent of his powers came to civil war. Westminster’s army proved the better, and at last, seven years later, Colonel Thomas Pride led a coup, escorting the King’s supporters from the Commons so that the remainder – the ‘Rump’ Parliament — could more conveniently convict him of treason.

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The Last Days of Charles II
two-part story
Music: Henry Purcell
James calls Fr Huddleston to his brother’s deathbed, ready for a most delicate task.

IT was, they said, not unusual for Chiffinch, Charles’s confidential servant, to bring certain charming visitors up the back stairs to his master’s bedroom. Now the King lay upon his deathbed, however, the visitor was of another kind.

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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:

Sad. Understood. Brother.

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 ‘Peep’
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
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with GOAT and finish with HERD.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FAST and finish with SLOW.
Do you know ‘cowardly’ (6 letters), and ‘historic Greek victory in 479 BC’ (7 letters)?
For each of these things, select the most apposite word of praise.
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

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: High Tiles (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: Target Number (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic