All Posts (649)
Nos 451 to 460
2 two-part story
Ralph Vaughan Williams
British Myths and Legends
The Legend of Beowulf
The oldest surviving heroic legend in English begins with a wild creature of the fens that hunts men for prey.

MANY ages ago Scyld, the great King of the Danes, died. His body was committed to the sea in a great funeral ship, and the Danes did not expect to see his like again.

Among his descendants, however, was Hrothgar, a beloved leader who gathered noble men about him in his great mead-hall.

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No. 451
2 two-part story
Ralph Vaughan Williams
British Myths and Legends
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
A knight issues a bizarre challenge to King Arthur and his court.

ONE New Year’s Eve, a knight rode into King Arthur’s hall. His clothes and armour were all green; even his skin was green.

Anyone who wished, cried the strange knight, could take one free swing at him with an axe — provided that he could then do the same in return.

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No. 452
Ignaz Moscheles
History of Israel
The Balfour Declaration of 1917
The former Prime Minister threw his weight behind a national home for Jewish people in their historic lands.

AFTER the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, the region known then as Syria came under British control through the ‘Mandate for Palestine’.

The Mandate drew on the so-called ‘Balfour Declaration’ of 1917, a letter, dated 2nd November, from government minister Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild, a leading London banker and former MP for Aylesbury.

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No. 453
Muzio Clementi
Music and Musicians
‘God Save the King!’
The simple melody of the United Kingdom’s national anthem has stirred the souls of some great composers.

THE acclamation ‘God Save the King’ has been sung at every English coronation since Edgar in 973, but the song known today as the national anthem of the United Kingdom is much more recent, appearing for the first time in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ of 1745.

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No. 454
Henry Purcell
British Myths and Legends
How Brutus of Troy Became Britain’s First King
An early mediaeval myth linking British civilization to the Fall of Troy.

BRUTUS was a prince of Italy, and the great-grandson of Aeneas, the hero of Troy.

One day, Brutus shot his own father in a hunting accident, and fled to Greece. There he found many of his fellow Trojans, still oppressed by the Greeks who had tamed them so long before.

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No. 455
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Lives of the Saints
St Dwynwen
St Dwynwen was a 5th century princess regarded by some as Wales’s answer to St Valentine.

DWYNWEN, daughter of Brychan, king of Brecon, fell in love with Maelon, a man of royal blood. Some say that Brychan had other plans for her, and forbade their marriage; others say that Maelon forced himself on her, and broke her heart. Dwynwen prayed to forget him.

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No. 456
William Babell
Lives of the Saints
The Martyrdom of St Alban
Alban voluntarily swapped places with a priest, and was executed for being a member of a banned religious sect.
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)

ONE June night in 305, a Christian priest fleeing the authorities in Verulam found refuge in the house of a kindly non-Christian named Alban.

They talked long about life and faith, and when the soldiers came knocking, Alban insisted on putting on the priest’s clothes, and presenting himself for trial in his place.

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No. 457
Ignaz Moscheles
Discovery and Invention
Earl Stanhope and the Re-Invention of Printing
Britain never knew she was a nation of voracious readers until printing entered the steam age.

UNTIL the end of the 18th century, printing remained a laborious, inky and unreliable affair. The first major advance on the Gutenberg press came from Charles, Earl Stanhope, who in 1798 produced an iron press.

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No. 458
Jan Ladislav Dussek
Classical History
First Contact
Julius Caesar came over from France expecting to silence the noisy neighbours, but things did not go according to plan.

ONE night late in August, 55 BC, Julius Caesar set sail from Boulogne with more than eighty ships. Eighteen more, carrying his cavalry, were to follow.

Dover’s towering cliffs, lined with defiant Britons, prompted Caesar to land his ships at Walmer.

His men, reluctant to disembark into unexpectedly deep waters, were rallied by their standard-bearer.

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No. 459
Sir William Sterndale Bennett
Poets and Poetry
Daffodils
A poem about the blessing of fond memories.
By William Wordsworth
(1770-1850)

I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

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No. 460
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
George was born in Israel and served in the Roman army, yet makes an ideal patron for England.
In 1910, Constantine Zervakos, a young monk from the Greek island of Paros, found himself charged with espionage.
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.
Two of Heracles’s labours are declared void, so to make up the number he is sent to find the Garden of the Hesperides.
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Pip Pirrip never misses a moment of visiting time with Abel Magwitch, the convict who made him into a gentleman, in the prison hospital.

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Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Load’
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 ‘brainy fellow’ (7 letters), and ‘drink’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FULL and finish with STOP.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.