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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.

St Wilfrid’s Debt
Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams
The Blessed Virgin Mary adds four years to the life of Bishop Wilfrid, and an angel suggests a suitable thank-you.
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)

WHEN Wilfrid reached Meaux, he was so weak that his friends spent every moment in heartfelt prayer as his bedside. The bishop was breathing still, but unconscious, and he had taken no food or water for four days.

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Two Posts
St Wilfrid and the Angel of Light
Music: George Frideric Handel
St Wilfrid finds comfort during his tussle with the King of Northumbria
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)

AFTER the King of Northumbria, Ecgfrith, expelled Wilfrid from his place as Bishop of York in 678, Wilfrid went to Rome, and brought back with him a letter of support from the Pope. However, the letter only made the King more angry. He had his sheriff, Osfrith, lock Wilfrid in a deep dungeon where little daylight came, ordering for good measure that no lamps be lit there by night.

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St Wilfrid and the Sheriff’s Wife
St Wilfrid brings healing to the wife of his own gaoler.
Based on an account by Stephen of Ripon
(early 8th century)

THE King’s sheriff, Osfrith, was a married man. One day, his wife suddenly fell ill. First, she experienced a growing stiffness, which in time became a complete numbness in all her limbs. The sheriff found her cold to the touch, and flecks of foam appeared round her mouth.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Railways’ (19 posts)
page 1
1 The Train of a Life
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
In Charles Dickens’s tale set around Mugby Junction, a man sees his life flash by like a ghostly train.
2 Russia’s First Railway
Sixteen-year-old John Wesley Hackworth brought a locomotive over to St Petersburg, and Russia’s railway revolution was ready for the off.
3 A Monument to Liberty
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Samuel Smiles explains why the London and Birmingham Railway was an achievement superior to the Great Pyramid of Giza.
4 The Rainhill Trials
To prove that steam power was the future of railways, George Stephenson held a truly historic competition.
5 Britain’s Best Gift to India
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Samuel Smiles reminds us that until we brought the railways to India, we had little to boast about as an imperial power.
6 India’s First Railway
The opening of the Bombay to Thane line was the real beginning of British India.
page 2
7 The Railway Clearing House
All but forgotten today, the RCH was one of the most important steps forward in British industrial history.
8 Ireland’s First Railway
The Dublin to Dun Laoghaire line opened in 1834, and proved a remarkable testimony to the speed of technological progress.
9 Sir Sandford Fleming
What George Stephenson was to the railways of England, Sandford Fleming was to the railways of Canada.
10 The London and Birmingham Railway
The textile moguls of Manchester and Liverpool engaged the Stephensons to complete their link to the capital.
11 Burning Daylight
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson argued that his steam engines were solar-powered.
12 The Genius Next Door
William Murdoch’s experiments with steam traction impressed his next-door neighbour, with world-changing results.
page 3
13 The Hat that Changed the World
Young William’s hat caught the eye of Matthew Boulton, and the world was never the same again.
14 The Stockton and Darlington Railway
George Stephenson and his son Robert created the world’s first passenger railway.
15 The Gift of the Gab
There was one form of power that self-taught engineering genius George Stephenson never harnessed.
16 The Iron Horse and the Iron Cow
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Railways not only brought fresh, healthy food to the urban poor, they improved the conditions of working animals.
17 The Tanfield Railway
Opened in 1725, the Tanfield Railway is one of the oldest railways still operating anywhere in the world.
18 The First Train Journey by Steam
Richard Trevithick’s boss hailed the engineer as a genius. Today he’d have been fired. (Oh, and the train was delayed.)
page 4
19 Timothy Hackworth
Timothy Hackworth (1786-1850) turned steam locomotives into a reliable commercial success.

Word Play: Spinner

Use these words together in a single sentence:

Off. Became. Speaking.

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 ‘Cafe’
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 ‘move in a zig-zag fashion’ (4), and ‘a 1711 opera by Handel’ (7)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FELL and finish with PONY.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with DOOR and finish with STEP.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (359)
Fiction (77)

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