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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.

A to Z Index

Character Witness
Music: Cipriani Potter
A former convict gives his own account of his debt to Thomas Wright, the prisoner’s friend.

“FIVE years ago I was” owns a certain G. J. “in the New Bailey, convicted of felony and sentenced to four months’ imprisonment. When I was discharged from prison, I could get no employment. I went to my old employer to ask him to take me again.

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The Prisoner’s Friend
Music: Cipriani Potter
Thomas Wright never earned more than a foreman’s wage, but he helped hundreds of prisoners back into society.

WHEN Thomas Wright learnt that a fellow employee at the Manchester foundry where he worked was to be sacked just because he was an ex-convict, he put down £20 as a guarantee of the man’s good behaviour. But by the time Wright reached the man’s lodgings, bursting with good news, the poor fellow had packed up and fled.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘County Durham’ (12 posts)
page 1
1 The Legend of Pollard’s Lands
An enterprising knight rids the Bishop of Durham of a troublesome boar, but the price comes as a shock to his lordship.
2 The Stockton and Darlington Railway
George Stephenson and his son Robert created the world’s first passenger railway.
3 The Hetton Railway
The railway earned a special place in history as the first to be designed for steam locomotives only.
4 The Lessons of History
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
England’s first and greatest historian explains why history is so important.
5 The Man who Made the Headlines
William Stead conceived modern print journalism in the belief that newspapers could change the world.
6 Silver Swan
By Mark Twain
(1835-1910)
Mark Twain’s attention was drawn off people-watching for a moment by an extraordinarily lifelike machine.
page 2
7 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.
8 The Tanfield Railway
Opened in 1725, the Tanfield Railway is one of the oldest railways still operating anywhere in the world.
9 The Lambton Worm
Part One. John Lambton goes fishing on a Sunday, and lets loose all kinds of trouble.
10 Timothy Hackworth
Timothy Hackworth (1786-1850) turned steam locomotives into a reliable commercial success.
11 Mrs Clements
Mrs Clements of Durham is not a household name, but the product she invented is.
12 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.

Question. After. Over.
The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone explains that a truly ‘exceptional nation’ respects the equality and rights of all nations.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
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 ‘Heron’
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 ‘knock over and scatter’ (7 letters), and ‘a measure of length equal to 45 inches’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with SHEEP and finish with FLOCK.
Do you know ‘rim’ (4 letters), and ‘the Roman name for Chester’ (4 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with GOAT and finish with HERD.
Do you know ‘cowardly’ (6 letters), and ‘historic Greek victory in 479 BC’ (7 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (375)
Fiction (80)

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

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