All Posts (649)
Nos 291 to 300
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
Lives of the Saints
The Spear of St Mercurius
Roman Emperor Julian was ready to destroy an entire Christian community over his wounded pride.
Based on a sermon by
Elfric of Eynsham

ON his way to Persia to do battle, the Emperor Julian ran into Basil, Bishop of Caesarea. They had been at the same Christian school, and Basil, after offering him some bread, joked that he had benefited rather more from their education than Julian, who was now a pagan.

To Basil’s amazement, Julian was furious.

Continue reading
No. 291
Charles Villiers Stanford
Mediaeval History
Flodden Edge
The Scots paid a heavy price for honouring their ‘Auld Alliance’ with France.

EARLY in the 16th century, Pope Julius II of Rome and King Louis XII of France were at war, and King Henry VIII of England had sided with the Pope. So Louis begged the Scottish King James IV to invade England, reminding him of the ‘Auld Alliance’, the Scots’ long-standing friendship with France.

Continue reading
No. 292
2 two-part story
John Garth
Kings and Queens
The Kings of Northumbria
Out of a restless alliance between two 6th century kingdoms came a civilisation that defined Englishness.

THE kingdoms of Bernicia to the north of the River Tees, with its capital at Bamburgh, and Deira to the south, seated in York, were first brought into an uneasy union by King Ethelfrith of Bernicia, son-in-law of Ella of Deira, in 604.

Continue reading
No. 293
Franz Joseph Haydn
Napoleonic Wars (1804-1815)
‘Really, I do not see the signal!’
Sometimes it is right to ‘turn a blind eye’.

IN King George III’s day, Britain’s maritime trading Empire, stretching from North America to India, provoked envy across Europe.

Napoleon Bonaparte carefully fanned the flames of resentment until, on 2nd April 1801, a fleet of ships gathered at Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark-Norway, eager to force Britain to share her supposedly ill-gotten wealth.

Continue reading
No. 294
Edvard Grieg
Scandinavian History
Vinland
Scandinavian warrior Leif Ericson was sent to bring Christianity to Greenland, but accidentally discovered North America instead.
Based on
The Saga of Eric the Red

OLAF Tryggvason became a Christian while visiting the Scilly Isles and England in 994, and after he came to the throne of Norway in 997, he entrusted Leif Ericson, one of his royal bodyguards and a fellow-Christian, with the conversion of the Orkneys and of Greenland, Leif’s home.

Continue reading
No. 295
Matthew Locke
Mediaeval History
The Re-rediscovery of America
John Day of Bristol did not want Christopher Columbus to labour under a misapprehension.

ON 24th June 1497, the Feast of St John the Baptist, Venetian captain John Cabot and his crew of Englishmen landed at Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland, after leaving Bristol aboard the ‘Matthew’ towards the end of May. Cabot did not venture far inland or found any settlements, but took careful notes and charted the coastline.

Continue reading
No. 296
George Frideric Handel
Modern History
The Battle of Plassey
A year after the infamous ‘Black hole of Calcutta’, Robert Clive was sent to exact retribution.

DEFEAT at the hands of the Kingdom of Travancore in 1741 was a body blow to the Dutch in India. And to the disappointment of the French, Robert Clive’s victory at Arcot in 1751 ensured that Britain’s friend, Mohammed Ali Khan Wallajah, became Nawab of the Carnatic in the south.

Continue reading
No. 297
Henry Purcell
Poets and Poetry
King Arthur’s Last Request
The legendary British warrior makes ready for his final journey, leaving Sir Bedivere with one last duty to perform.
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)

“I HAVE liv’d my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul.

Continue reading
No. 298
2 two-part story
Henry Purcell
Stuart Era
The Last Days of Charles II
James calls Fr Huddleston to his brother’s deathbed, ready for a most delicate task.

IT was, they said, not unusual for Chiffinch, Charles’s confidential servant, to bring certain charming visitors up the back stairs to his master’s bedroom. Now the King lay upon his deathbed, however, the visitor was of another kind.

Continue reading
No. 299
John Hebden
Greek and Roman Myths
Bellerophon and the Chimera
The wronged hero vanquishes a dreadful monster with the help of a winged horse, but then it all goes to his head.

AFTER Bellerophon spurned the advances of Anteia, Queen of Tyrins, she had the handsome hero banished to Lycia.

With him went a coded letter to the King, Iobates, who just happened to be Anteia’s father, recommending that Bellerophon be put to death.

Continue reading
No. 300
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
A Victorian children’s book inspired the birth of modern electronics.
Handel’s German boss fired the composer for spending all his time in London. When they met again, it was... rather awkward.
Army unrest spread throughout northeast India, and brought direct rule from London.
The King of Syria goes on a mole-hunt, but Elisha does not seem to mind being his prime suspect.
Based on a sermon by
Elfric of Eynsham
Roman Emperor Julian was ready to destroy an entire Christian community over his wounded pride.

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 ‘Edge’
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 ‘wheedle’ (6 letters), and ‘engine-driver’s compartment’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with DOOR and finish with STEP.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.