All Posts (649)
Nos 231 to 240
Johann Baptist Cramer
Lives of the Saints
Aaron’s Rod
The Victorian practice of hanging sugared nuts on a Christmas tree was bursting with Biblical symbolism.
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)

GOD bade Moses, the leader, take twelve dry rods from the twelve tribes of the people of Israel, and lay them before the holy ark within the great tabernacle: and he would by those rods declare whom he had chosen for bishop.

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No. 231
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots
Henry VII’s great-granddaughter Mary never grasped that even royalty must win the people’s respect.

JAMES V of Scotland enraged his uncle, Henry VIII of England, by refusing to support the spread of Protestantism, and paid for it with defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss in 1542. James died shortly after, leaving his crown to his infant daughter Mary, barely a week old.

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No. 232
2 two-part story
Jan Ladislav Dussek
Lives of the Saints
How St Euphemia Saved Christmas
The martyr St Euphemia played a vital role in preventing the message of Christmas from being watered down.

IN 428, Nestorius, the new Patriarch of Constantinople, delivered his first Christmas sermons amid controversy.

For generations, Christians had wonderingly acclaimed Mary as ‘Theotokos’, God’s birth-giver, but some in the capital now protested that it was an offence to God’s dignity. How could the Almighty undergo physical birth, or have a mother?

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No. 233
Felix Mendelssohn
Poets and Poetry
Six Honest Serving-Men
A professional journalist and author recognises that he has met his match
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)

I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

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No. 234
2 two-part story
Sir William Sterndale Bennett
Stories in Short
No Thoroughfare
At twenty-five and owner of his own business, Walter Wilding thought his world was secure, but it was about to be rocked to its foundations.
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
and Wilkie Collins
(1824-1889)

WHEN a tearful mother left her baby son at London’s Foundling Hospital, she went away knowing only that they had named him ‘Walter Wilding’. He was eleven when she returned and claimed him by that name, lavishing a mother’s love on him until she died thirteen years later.

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No. 235
Sir William Walton
Plantagenet Era
The Battle of Agincourt
One of the best-known of all battles in English history, but not because of the conflict of which it was a part.

IN 1340, Edward III was persuaded by his Flemish allies to assume the title of ‘King of France’, precipitating the Hundred Years’ War. Initial success gave way to a truce in 1396, and in 1415 the young Dauphin, Charles, impatiently demanded that Henry V renounce his great-grandfather’s claims, or come over and prove them in battle.

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No. 236
2 two-part story
Alice Mary Smith
Discovery and Invention
The London and Birmingham Railway
The textile moguls of Manchester and Liverpool engaged the Stephensons to complete their link to the capital.

THE London and Birmingham Railway opened on September 17th, 1838, connecting Euston to Curzon Street via Rugby and Coventry in five and a half hours. At Curzon Street, passengers could change to the Grand Junction Railway for Manchester and Liverpool, whose cotton-merchants and mill-owners had paid for the link to the capital.

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No. 237
Frank Bridge
The Great War
The Outbreak of the Great War
Germany felt she had a right to an empire like Britain’s, and she was willing to get it at the expense of her neighbours.

FROM the 1890s onwards Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, envious of Britain’s industrial and colonial success and exhilarated by German unification, began pouring resources into battleships, weapons and manufacturing. Britain and other European nations, sensing danger, nervously followed suit.

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No. 238
Edward German
Classical History
A Pyrrhic Victory
The ancient Greek King knew victory had cost his army more than it could afford to lose.
By Plutarch
(AD 46-120)

AFTER they had fought till sunset, both armies were unwillingly separated by the night, Pyrrhus being wounded by a javelin in the arm, and his baggage plundered by the Samnites; in all there died of Pyrrhus’s men and the Romans above fifteen thousand.

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No. 239
John Garth
Lives of the Saints
Cuthbert and the Mystery Guest
A young monk was rewarded for taking his duties as guest-master seriously.
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)

ONE freezing cold winter’s morning, after a night of snow, Cuthbert was surprised to discover a footsore traveller in the guest-house. He bathed the man’s feet, and suggested breakfast, but it seemed his visitor’s home was a long way off, and he was eager to be gone.

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No. 240
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
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.
Based on the novel by Sir Henry Rider Haggard
(1865-1936)
Allan Quartermain goes in search of a lost tourist and a legendary hoard of diamonds.
Preventing the German fleet from breaking out into the Atlantic in 1916 should have felt like victory, but it felt like defeat.
Howard gave his life to saving the ‘great gifts and strange inconsistencies’ of Britain’s unique democracy.
A Japanese swordsman confronts a Russian monk for... actually, he’s not really quite sure.

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History (394)
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Georgian Era (107)
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Doublets (34)
Triplets (23)
Railways (23)
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Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Gable’
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 BEEF and finish with STEW.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.