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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.

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The Grand Embassy
two-part story
Music: Henry Purcell
A young Peter the Great of Russia toured Europe seeking help for his diplomatic, military and architectural plans.

IN January 1698, John Evelyn lent his house at Sayes Court to the Government for the impending ‘Grand Embassy’ of Tsar Peter of Russia, then a young man of twenty-six. Peter’s plan was to forge a European alliance against Turkey, and acquire vital ship-building technology for Russia’s navy.

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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: Verb or Noun?

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

Pain. Show. Wait.

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 ‘Crag’
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 ‘move in a zig-zag fashion’ (4), and ‘a 1711 opera by Handel’ (7)?
An arithmetical puzzle combining addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and fractions.
Do you know ‘knock over and scatter’ (7 letters), and ‘a measure of length equal to 45 inches’ (3 letters)?
Try writing complete sentences using these adjectives in the attributive position.
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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letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

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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