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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

Latest
The Tichborne Dole
Music: John Playford
The strange-but-true story of a Lady Day tradition.

BACK in the twelfth century, as Lady Mabella Tichborne lay dying she asked her husband to give the peasants on his estates a free gift of flour every year on Lady Day.

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AZ Index

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

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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.
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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: Confusables

Compose your own sentences to show the difference between these words:

Shore. Sure.

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 ‘Gold’
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
Do you know ‘overbalance’ (6 letters), and ‘veteran’ (3,4 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Suggest things or circumstances which are just begging for these adjectives.
Try writing complete sentences using these verbs in either the active or the passive voice.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
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History (375)
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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

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