All Posts (649)
Nos 121 to 130
Elias Parish Alvars
Lives of the Saints
St Bega
In Irish princess fled to Cumbria to escape the Vikings, clutching her precious silver bracelet.

IN 853, Dublin came under the control of the great Viking chieftain Olaf the White who, according to the Norse Sagas and the Irish Annals alike, married Irish royalty. Not all Irish princesses, however, yearned for a warrior-husband. Some were Christians, for whom Norse religion was a step back into darkness.

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No. 121
Sir William Sterndale Bennett
Lives of the Saints
Crayke Abbey
The long-lost monastery at Crayke in North Yorkshire was home to two saints with different but equally valuable gifts.

WHEN St Cuthbert was consecrated bishop of Lindisfarne in 685, King Ecgfrith of Northumbria gave him an estate at Crayke, some twelve miles north of York, as a place to stay on his journeys to the capital. Cuthbert at once founded a monastery there, and appointed the first abbot.

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No. 122
Thomas Linley the Younger
Liberty and Prosperity
Honourable Mr Fox
The colourful Foreign Secretary humbly accepted a lesson in manners from a local tradesman.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

THE story is told of a tradesman calling upon him one day for the payment of a promissory note which he presented. Fox was engaged at the time in counting out gold. The tradesman asked to be paid from the money before him. “No,” said Fox, “I owe this money to Sheridan; it is a debt of honour.”

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No. 123
Franz Joseph Haydn
Lives of the Saints
St Erkenwald, Light of London
The seventh-century Bishop of London helped kings and clergy to shine Christian light into the darkness of mere religion.

ERKENWALD was born into a family of royal blood in the Kingdom of Lindsey around 630, and used his inheritance to found a monastery for himself in Chertsey near London, and another for his sister Ethelburga in Barking.

In 674, King Sebbi of Essex was baptised, and Erkenwald’s part in this, together with the high reputation of his two monastic communities, led Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, to appoint Erkenwald as Bishop of London in 675.

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No. 124
2 two-part story
Camille Saint-Saens
Extracts from Literature
Mr Ivery Gets Away
Richard Hannay tracks a German spy down to a French château, but Hannay’s sense of fair play gives his enemy a chance.
By John Buchan
(1875-1940)

‘HULLO, Mr Ivery,’ I said. ‘This is an odd place to meet again!’

In his amazement he fell back a step, while his hungry eyes took in my face. There was no mistake about the recognition. I saw something I had seen once before in him, and that was fear. Out went the light and he sprang for the door.

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No. 125
2 two-part story
Mikhail Glinka and Johann Strauss (Jr)
Discovery and Invention
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.

IN 1836, sixteen-year-old John Wesley Hackworth arrived in the Russian capital, St Petersburg, bearing the heavy responsibility of delivering a steam locomotive, built by his father Timothy at Shildon in County Durham, to the Russian Empire’s first railway line.

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No. 126
2 two-part story
Ann Sheppard Mounsey and William Herschel
Discovery and Invention
The Ladies’ Diary
A long-lived annual of riddles, rhymes and really hard maths aimed specifically at Georgian Britain’s hidden public of clever women.

THE ‘Ladies’ Diary’, published annually in London from 1704 to 1841, offered an almanack of useful dates, astronomical events, rhyming riddles and readers’ queries, such as

“I should be glad to know, what is the composition of the India rubber; and how and where it is made”.

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No. 127
Jan Ladislav Dussek
Discovery and Invention
John Dalton
At fifteen John Dalton was a village schoolmaster in Kendal; at forty he had published the first scientific theory of atoms.

JOHN Dalton, a weaver’s boy, began his teaching career at fifteen, helping his elder brother to run a Quaker school in Kendal. He deepened his education by contributing maths problems to The Ladies’ Diary, and reading scientific works to Kendal’s distinguished natural philosopher John Gough, who was blind, in exchange for lessons in Latin and Greek.

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No. 128
George Frideric Handel
Lives of the Saints
Undoubting Thomas
Abbot Elfric praised St Thomas for demanding hard evidence for the resurrection.
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)

THOMAS’S unbelief in Christ’s resurrection was not unforeseen, but happened in the foresight of God; for his touch made believers of us. His doubt did us more good than the other Apostles’ belief. For when that touch brought him to belief, it carried our doubt away.

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No. 129
Gustav Holst
Greek and Roman Myths
Heracles and the Mares of Diomedes
Eurystheus pits his cousin against a son of Ares and some man-eating horses.

ARES, the god of war, had a son named Diomedes, lord of the Bistones, a warrior-tribe that lived near Lake Vistonida in Thrace. Down by the sea Diomedes kept a string of savage mares, chained to bronze mangers in which he gave them man’s flesh to eat.

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No. 130
Polywords (182)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Path
Added on Monday December 11th, 2017
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.
Today in History
1878 The death of Alfred Bird, Birmingham pharmacist and confectioner
From our Archive
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
An over-excited jackdaw goes out of his league, and pays the price.
By Charlotte Brontë
(1816-1855)
Was it an over-excited imagination, or an answer to prayer?
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Macbeth becomes wound in spells, and finds that one murder leads to another.
By Henry of Huntingdon
(?1088-?1157)
King Canute enacted a memorable demonstration of the limits of government power.
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.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (394)
Polywords (182)
Georgian Era (107)
Fiction (84)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Triplets (23)
Railways (23)
Stuart Era (16)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Tulip’
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 ‘cunning’ (3 letters), and ‘Phobos’s primary’ (4 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with COAL and finish with FIRE.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.