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.

Tamed by Wisdom, Freed by Grace
two-part story
Music: Richard Jones
Abbot Elfric expounds a Palm Sunday text to explain how Christianity combines orderly behaviour with intelligent and genuine liberty.
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)

AN ass is a foolish beast, and dirty, and stupid compared with other beasts, and strong for burdens. Such were men before Christ’s advent: foolish and dirty, while they served idols and various vices, and bowed down to the images they had fashioned themselves, and said to them, “Thou art my god.” And they bore whatever burden the devil laid on them.

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Five Posts
At Heaven’s Gate
Music: George Frideric Handel
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf takes us to the threshold of God’s holy city, and gives us a choice.
By Cynewulf
(8th century)

OPEN, ye gates! Creation’s King would enter his citadel, would lead into the joy of joys a people (they are no small company) snatched from the devil by his Victory. Affinity shall angels and men have for ever after.

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High Beneath Heaven’s Roof
Music: George Frideric Handel
The Cross of Christ speaks, and tells of the amazing transformation from sign of shame to sign of redemption.
By Cynewulf
(8th century)

“NOW the time has come for men far and wide upon this earth to have me in veneration, and for the whole, wonderful creation to make its prayers to this Standard.

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The Parable of the Ten Virgins
Music: Edward Elgar
Five young women cared enough about a man’s wedding-day to make the smallest of sacrifices, and received the best of rewards.

TEN virgins were chosen to escort a bridegroom into his evening wedding. Each was given a lamp, but five of them foolishly brought no oil from home, perhaps thinking more would (and should) be provided by the happy couple on the day.

Evening came, but the bridegroom was late, and all ten virgins dozed off.

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Breaking Death
Music: George Frideric Handel
For Jesus Christ to step down alive from his cross would have been a mighty miracle, but not the mightiest.
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)

THE Jews called out to Christ, fastened to the cross, saying that ‘if he was the King of Israel, he should descend now from the cross, and they would believe in him.’

Had he had descended from the cross and not borne their mockery, then without question he would have set us no example of his fortitude; but he did remain there, did bear their mockery, and did show fortitude.

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The Six Leaps of Faith
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf explores a prophecy from the Song of Solomon.
By Cynewulf
(8th century)

WHEN first he leapt, he lighted on a woman, an untouched maid; and human form he took there (though without sin) that he might be Comforter to all that dwell on earth.

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Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Northumberland’ (26 posts)
page 1
1 Taste and See
Wonder spread through a Tyneside monastery after Bishop Cuthbert asked for a drink of water.
2 The Battle of Nechtansmere
King Ecgfrith of Northumbria dismissed repeated warnings about his imperial ambitions.
3 Crayke Abbey
The long-lost monastery at Crayke in North Yorkshire was home to two saints with different but equally valuable gifts.
4 St Cuthbert and the Phantom Fire
The Northumbrian saint warned of an enemy who would stop at nothing to silence the good news.
5 Cuthbert, the Bridle and the Book
One of England’s most precious artefacts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, was nearly lost at sea.
6 Cuthbert and the Mystery Guest
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
A young monk was rewarded for taking his duties as guest-master seriously.
page 2
7 Northumberland
By Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
(1878-1962)
A poem of nostalgia for the sea breezes and yellow gorse of Northumberland.
8 Cvthbertvs
Henry VIII’s experts declared that saints were nothing special, but St Cuthbert had a surprise for them.
9 Cuthbert and the Dun Cow
The magnificent cathedral at Durham owes its existence to a missing cow.
10 Burning Daylight
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson argued that his steam engines were solar-powered.
11 The Kings of Northumbria
Out of a restless alliance between two 6th century kingdoms came a civilisation that defined Englishness.
12 Bread from Heaven
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Cuthbert trusted that keeping his promised fast would not do him any harm.
page 3
13 The Pitman Poet
Joseph Skipsey taught himself to read and write by candlelight, hundreds of feet below ground in a Northumberland pit.
14 The Gift of the Gab
There was one form of power that self-taught engineering genius George Stephenson never harnessed.
15 The Bully and the Brakesman
A young George Stephenson takes responsibility for the team spirit at Black Callerton mine.
16 St Bede of Wearmouth and Jarrow
The mild-mannered, artistic monk was nevertheless a founding father of the English nation.
17 Grace Darling
Mild-mannered Grace Darling persuaded her father to let her help him rescue the survivors of a shipwreck.
18 Sharp’s Castle
At Bamburgh, John Sharp organised free healthcare and education, bargain groceries, and the world’s first coastguard service.
page 4
19 St Aidan Returns King Penda’s Fire
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
When Penda tried to burn down Bamburgh Castle, St Aidan turned the pagan King’s own weapons against him.
20 Cragside: the Home of Modern Living
Lord Armstrong’s home was an Aladdin’s cave of Victorian technology.
21 The Man who Made the Headlines
William Stead conceived modern print journalism in the belief that newspapers could change the world.
22 Cuthbert and the Expert Witness
Based on the account by Reginald of Durham
(12th century)
A hungry monk thought he had got away with the tastiest of crimes, but St Cuthbert kept his promise to his beloved birds.
23 The Geordie Lamp
Based on an account by Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
The engineer put his own life on the line for the safety of his fellow-workers in the coal industry.
24 St Cuthbert and the Otters
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
An inquisitive monk spied on a guest’s night-time walks.
page 5
25 Cuthbert and the Miracle of the Wind
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The young monk taught some hard-hearted pagans a lesson they’d never forget.
26 The Character of George Stephenson
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
A self-made man who never forgot his humble beginnings.

Word Play: Spinner

Use these words together in a single sentence:

Continued. Rather. Offered.

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 ‘Late’
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 ‘ocean’ (7), and ‘a famously incorruptible Roman senator’ (4)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FISH and finish with CAKE.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with LONG and finish with JUMP.
A word-making game based on the popular TV show.
Do you know ‘snare’ (6 letters), and ‘better’ (3 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (359)
Fiction (77)

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