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John Playford
Christian Customs
Wassail and Twelfth-Cake
When England’s Christians absorbed the pagan traditions of ‘wassailing’, they kept the fun and cast out the fear.

IN Anglo-Saxon times, the New Year greeting ‘wæs hāl’ (‘Be well!’) was followed by ‘wassail’, spiced mead or cider, and wassail-songs.

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Polywords (185)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Grey
Added on Thursday February 15th, 2018
Doublets (34)
Turn one word into another, changing just one letter each time.
Latest: Stardust
Quickwords (46)
A mini-crossword of everyday vocabulary and general knowledge.
Triplets (23)
Find one common letter that will turn three words into three new ones.
Latest: Triplet No. 23
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
See how ingenious you can be in combining three randomly chosen words in one sentence.
Compose sentences showing the difference in meaning, grammar or usage between these words.
Practise your basic arithmetic, from multiplation tables to percentages.
Latest: Target Number
Take command of English grammar and composition with these traditional exercises.
Latest: Letters Game
A word search game with a dash of strategy.

About our calendars

From our Archive
Thomas Lewis was rescued from slavery with only minutes to spare.
By Frederick Douglass
(1818-1895)
British statesmen were among those who inspired the career of one of America’s greatest men, Frederick Douglass.
A young Indian student from Cambridge was selected for England’s cricket team after public pressure.
The Princely State of Mysore (today in Karnataka) was hailed as an example of good governance to all the world.
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.

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India (14)
Tudor Era (11)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Lift’
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.

More Word Games
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
Do you know ‘a river, part of the Bristol-London waterway’ (6 letters), and ‘e.g. D minor’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with BEEF and finish with STEW.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.