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
Ring out the Old, Ring in the New
Music: Albert Ketèlbey
For Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Christmas was a time to let the dead past bury its dead.
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)

RING out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Continue reading ›
Six Posts
Queen Charlotte’s Christmas Tree
Music: Franz Liszt
Cromwell’s killjoys almost silenced the English Christmas, but thanks to a royal family tradition the message is still being proclaimed.

IN 1800, King George III’s German-born wife, Charlotte, set up a decorated Christmas tree at a children’s party.

Her grand-daughter Queen Victoria recalled that a candle-lit tree, hung with sugar ornaments, subsequently became a feature of the royal family’s Christmas.

Continue reading ›
How St Euphemia Saved Christmas
two-part story
Music: Jan Ladislav Dussek
The martyr St Euphemia played a vital role in preventing the message of Christmas from being watered down.

IN 428, Nestorius, the new Patriarch of Constantinople, delivered his first Christmas sermons amid controversy.

For generations, Christians had wonderingly acclaimed Mary as ‘Theotokos’, God’s birth-giver, but some in the capital now protested that it was an offence to God’s dignity. How could the Almighty undergo physical birth, or have a mother?

Continue reading ›
The Adoration of the Magi
two-part story
Music: York Bowen
Persian star-gazers hasten to Israel for the birth of a royal heir, but find that King Herod has had his fill of them.

NOT long before King Herod died, astrologers from Persia agreed that an unusual star announced the birth of a Jewish prince. A group of them set off for Jerusalem, no doubt expecting to find Herod’s palace in celebration.

Continue reading ›
The Return of Plum Pudding
Music: John Playford
The Puritans said it was unfit for God-fearing men, but George I thought it fit for a King.

RICH and luxurious plum pudding was banned as “unfit for God-fearing people” by the republican Puritans in 1647, prompting riots in Kent.

Christmas celebrations returned with Charles II in 1660, and in 1714 King George I requested plum pudding for his first Christmas in England, making it fashionable once again.

Continue reading ›
The Martyrdom of St Stephen
Music: John Field
Stephen was the first person to lose his life because he was a follower of Jesus Christ.

GAMALIEL, one of the most respected teachers in Jerusalem, was a moderate. But his pupil Saul became a firebrand, dedicated to purifying Judaism of Greco-Roman culture and especially of the Christians, who had already seduced a Greek-culture Jew named Stephen.

Continue reading ›
Christmas Bells
Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams
The sounds of an English country Christmas helped Tennyson in his deep mourning for an old friend.
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)

THE time draws near the birth of Christ:
The moon is hid; the night is still;
The Christmas bells from hill to hill
Answer each other in the mist.

Each voice four changes on the wind,
That now dilate, and now decrease,
Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace,
Peace and goodwill, to all mankind.

Continue reading ›
All Posts
Tagged Christmastide (10 posts)
page 1
1 Ring out the Old, Ring in the New
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)
For Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Christmas was a time to let the dead past bury its dead.
2 Christmas Bells
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)
The sounds of an English country Christmas helped Tennyson in his deep mourning for an old friend.
3 Aaron’s Rod
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)
The Victorian practice of hanging sugared nuts on a Christmas tree was bursting with Biblical symbolism.
4 How St Euphemia Saved Christmas
The martyr St Euphemia played a vital role in preventing the message of Christmas from being watered down.
5 The Adoration of the Magi
Persian star-gazers hasten to Israel for the birth of a royal heir, but find that King Herod has had his fill of them.
6 The Martyrdom of St Stephen
Stephen was the first person to lose his life because he was a follower of Jesus Christ.
page 2
7 Queen Charlotte’s Christmas Tree
Cromwell’s killjoys almost silenced the English Christmas, but thanks to a royal family tradition the message is still being proclaimed.
8 The Return of Plum Pudding
The Puritans said it was unfit for God-fearing men, but George I thought it fit for a King.
9 The Season of ‘Goodwill’
‘Goodwill’ was on everyone’s lips, but the Roman Emperor and the God of Israel had very different ideas about it.
10 The Story of ‘Messiah’
Music by George Frideric Handel
(1685-1759)
The first thing George Frideric Handel’s oratorio ‘Messiah’ did was to set a hundred and forty-two prisoners free.
Authors
Elfric of Eynsham (955-1010)
1 post
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
2 posts

Word Play: Verb or Noun?

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

Place. Wind. Spring.

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 ‘Mood’
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.
Do you know ‘perceptive’ (5 letters), and ‘English artist’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘meticulous’ (7 letters), and ‘father of Goneril, Regan and Cordelia’ (4 letters)?
An arithmetical puzzle combining addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and fractions.
Do you know ‘well-worn route or habit’ (3 letters), and ‘naval officer’ (7 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (359)
Fiction (77)

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: ‘Countdown’ 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