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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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Sir Titus Salt
two-part story
Music: Felix Mendelssohn; Sir George Macfarren
His alpaca-wool mills near Bradford proved the social benefits of private enterprise in the right hands.

ON a trip to Liverpool, shortly after taking over his father’s wool business in 1833, Titus Salt stumbled across some bales of alpaca-wool, then little-known in England. His father forbade him to buy them, but he did, and by 1850 his business had outgrown its Bradford premises.

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AZ Index

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

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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 Eddi’s Service
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Rudyard Kipling’s poem about St Wilfrid’s chaplain and an unusual Christmas congregation.
3 St Bede and the Singing Stones
Based on The Golden Legend
(1275)
The Northumbrian monk is duped into wasting one of his beautifully-crafted sermons on a row of dumb rocks.
4 St Wilfrid and the Fishers of Men
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Driven out of Northumbria, Bishop Wilfrid goes to the south coast and saves a kingdom from starvation.
5 Birds of Paradise
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf paints a word-picture of heaven and the seraph-band that swoops and soars before the throne.
6 Taste and See
Wonder spread through a Tyneside monastery after Bishop Cuthbert asked for a drink of water.
page 2
7 The Last Commandment
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf imagines the farewell between Jesus and his Apostles, forty days after his resurrection.
8 Crayke Abbey
The long-lost monastery at Crayke in North Yorkshire was home to two saints with different but equally valuable gifts.
9 The Six Leaps of Faith
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf explores a prophecy from the Song of Solomon.
10 At Heaven’s Gate
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf takes us to the threshold of God’s holy city, and gives us a choice.
11 Annunciation
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Cynewulf reflects on the mystery of the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary.
12 St Chad and the Invisible Choir
Chad, the seventh-century Bishop of Mercia, seemed to be making a lot of music for one man.
page 3
13 St Cuthbert and the Phantom Fire
The Northumbrian saint warned of an enemy who would stop at nothing to silence the good news.
14 Cuthbert, the Bridle and the Book
One of England’s most precious artefacts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, was nearly lost at sea.
15 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.
16 Cuthbert and the Dun Cow
The magnificent cathedral at Durham owes its existence to a missing cow.
17 Cvthbertvs
Henry VIII’s experts declared that saints were nothing special, but St Cuthbert had a surprise for them.
18 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 4
19 The Lessons of History
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
England’s first and greatest historian explains why history is so important.
20 St Bede of Wearmouth and Jarrow
The mild-mannered, artistic monk was nevertheless a founding father of the English nation.
21 High Beneath Heaven’s Roof
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The Cross of Christ speaks, and tells of the amazing transformation from sign of shame to sign of redemption.
22 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.
23 Caedmon Learns to Sing
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
A shy and unmusical stable-hand suddenly began to sing wise and moving hymns.
24 St Wilfrid’s Debt
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)
The Blessed Virgin Mary adds four years to the life of Bishop Wilfrid, and an angel suggests a suitable thank-you.
page 5
25 St Hild and the Synod of Whitby
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The respected Abbess oversaw the English Church’s historic commitment to adopt Byzantine traditions.
26 St Wilfrid and the Angel of Light
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)
St Wilfrid finds comfort during his tussle with the King of Northumbria
27 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.
28 St Wilfrid and the Sheriff’s Wife
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)
St Wilfrid brings healing to the wife of his own gaoler.
29 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.
30 How St Benedict Biscop brought Byzantium to Britain
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The chapel of Bede’s monastery in Sunderland was full of the colours and sounds of the far-off Mediterranean world.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Opposites

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

Close. Run. Give.
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 ‘Mile’
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
A word-making game based on the popular TV show.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with STAR and finish with DUST.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with TOWN and finish with CITY.
Do you know ‘cunning’ (3 letters), and ‘Phobos’s primary’ (4 letters)?
Do you know ‘snare’ (6 letters), and ‘better’ (3 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
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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

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps Mental arithmetic