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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

St David of Wales
Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams
The popular monk was elected as bishop of Menevia in Wales in 550.

DEWI Sant, as the Welsh call him, was a Christian monk who founded twelve new monasteries in the largely pagan society of Brittany (in northern France), the West Country, and Wales.

David lived as his monks did, drinking only water, and eating only bread, herbs and vegetables.

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St Dwynwen
Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams
St Dwynwen was a 5th century princess regarded by some as Wales’s answer to St Valentine.

DWYNWEN, daughter of Brychan, king of Brecon, fell in love with Maelon, a man of royal blood. Some say that Brychan had other plans for her, and forbade their marriage; others say that Maelon forced himself on her, and broke her heart. Dwynwen prayed to forget him.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
page 1
1 The Restoration of the Icons
By the early eighth century, sacred art was thriving in newly-Christian England, but in the East seeds of doubt and confusion had been sown.
2 ‘Filioque’
It started as an honest mistake, became a diplomatic standoff, and brought down an Empire.
3 The Voice of an Angel
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A tenth-century Greek monk is joined by a total stranger for Mattins.
4 Bede and the Paschal Controversy
The earliest Christians longed to celebrate the resurrection together at Passover, but that was not as easy as it sounds.
5 Our Lady’s Mantle
Shortly after Askold and Dir founded Kiev in 862, they launched a brazen but ill-fated assault on the capital of the Roman Empire.
6 St Helen Finds the True Cross
Based on ‘Elene’ by Cynewulf
(8th century)
The mother of the Roman Emperor goes to Jerusalem on a quest close to her heart.
page 2
7 The Spear of St Mercurius
Based on a sermon by
Elfric of Eynsham
Roman Emperor Julian was ready to destroy an entire Christian community over his wounded pride.
8 Stick and Carrot
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
The Virgin Mary and her son team up to get the best out of some careless monks.
9 The Fall of Constantinople
Hospitality and sympathy, but no help - the Byzantine Emperor learns a bitter lesson about western diplomacy.
10 St Mary of Egypt
Back in the 6th century, a young woman was ruining her own life and the lives of others.
11 Welcome to Micklegarth
After the Norman Conquest, thousands of worried Englishmen departed for a new life in the Byzantine world.
12 The Miracle of St John of the Caves
The story of an unexpected escape through the heart of a hill.
page 3
13 St John of Damascus
John’s enduring influence is evident today in the rich sights and sounds of Christian liturgy.
14 St Nicholas of the Cats
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A very unusual monastery with some very unusual protectors.
15 Cyril and Hypatia
A ‘Christian’ mob kidnapped and murdered a much-loved professor of mathematics - for her politics.
16 The Keeper of the Gate
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition
A widow cast her precious icon into the sea rather than see it dishonoured by government agents, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
17 A Battle of Wills
Based on ‘A Book of Golden Deeds’ by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
Two strong and determined men refused to back down.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Opposites

Suggest words or phrases that are opposite in meaning to the words below.

Bring. Courage. Find.
By Ethel Smyth
(1858-1944)
Composer Ethel Smyth buys a new-fangled ladies’ bicycle, and scandalises the neighbours.
By Lewis Carroll
(1832-1898)
Alice meets Humpty Dumpty, and it turns out that she has been using words wrong all her life.
The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
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 ‘Court’
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 ‘entertainer’ (7 letters), and ‘distant’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘princes and princesses, kings and queens’ (7 letters), and ‘jump up and down on one foot’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘brainy fellow’ (7 letters), and ‘drink’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with CHIP and finish with PUTT.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (375)
Fiction (81)

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