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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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Eddi’s Service
two-part story
Music: Dmitry Bortniansky
Rudyard Kipling’s poem about St Wilfrid’s chaplain and an unusual Christmas congregation.
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)

EDDI, priest of St Wilfrid
In his chapel at Manhood End,
Ordered a midnight service
For such as cared to attend.

But the Saxons were keeping Christmas,
And the night was stormy as well.
Nobody came to service,
Though Eddi rang the bell.

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Four 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’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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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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St Wilfrid and the Fishers of Men
Music: George Frideric Handel
Driven out of Northumbria, Bishop Wilfrid goes to the south coast and saves a kingdom from starvation.
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)

WHEN Wilfrid came to Sussex in 681, he found that the region had been suffering three years of continuous drought. Though they lived by the coast, the locals could do no more that snare a few eels in the muddy rivers, and sometimes forty or fifty would link arms and leap from a cliff-top, preferring to drown in the sea rather than starve.

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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.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Spinner

Use these words together in a single sentence:

Need. Hard. Rest.

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 ‘Ride’
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
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with ASH and finish with OAK.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FELL and finish with PONY.
Add one number to another number. See how quickly you can solve the sums.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
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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History (375)
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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.

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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