All Posts (676)
Nos 481 to 490
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. 481
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. 482
Ignaz Moscheles
Discovery and Invention
King George III (1760-1820)
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. 483
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. 484
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. 485
Johannes Brahms
Character and Conduct
Character and Learning
Intellectual learning is to be respected, but it should never be confused with good character.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

IN the New Testament, appeals are constantly made to the heart of man and to "the spirit we are of," whilst allusions to the intellect are of very rare occurrence.

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No. 486
George Frideric Handel
Sir Winston S. Churchill
Winston Churchill’s Final Journey
The heroic and charismatic statesman’s last journey was replete with echoes of his extraordinary life.

SIR Winston Churchill, appointed Prime Minister in 1940 to lead Britain’s successful war effort against the Nazis, died on January 24, 1965, aged 90.

He was to be buried in Bladon, a village near Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire where Churchill was born in 1874.

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No. 487
Muzio Clementi
Napoleonic Wars
King George III (1760-1820)
Captain Moorsom’s ‘Revenge’
The Whitby man held his nerve to keep five enemy ships busy at Trafalgar, and subsequently led Nelson’s funeral procession.

AS soon as battle was joined at Trafalgar, Robert Moorsom, captain of HMS Revenge, alarmed his crew by sailing directly towards five enemy ships.

He had few forward-firing cannon, and the broadsides of the enemy tore through Revenge’s rigging and across her deck without reply, while Moorsom strolled among the flying splinters ‘as though walking to church’.

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No. 488
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach
Stories in Short
The Selfish Giant
A giant gets angry when he finds children playing in his garden.
Based on the short story by
Oscar Wilde

ALL the children of the village played in the garden of an empty house, until one day the owner, who was a Giant, came back.

The sight of all those children in his garden made him angry, so he built a stout wall around it, and put up a notice saying ‘Trespassers will be Prosecuted’.

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No. 489
John Playford
Christian Customs
Wassail and Twelfth-Cake
When England’s Christians absorbed the pagan traditions of ‘wassailing’, they kept the fun and cast out the fear.

IN Anglo-Saxon times, the New Year greeting ‘wæs hāl’ (‘Be well!’) was followed by ‘wassail’, spiced mead or cider, and wassail-songs.

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No. 490
Polywords (185)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Grey
Added on Thursday February 15th, 2018
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.

About our calendars

From our Archive
The Parliament of Scotland tried to liberate itself from London’s strangling single market.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
It’s hard when messed-up people treat you badly, but if you take it personally it only makes it worse.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Samuel Smiles shows us two great achievements inspired by two tiny creatures.
Based on an account by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
A young French cavalry soldier took a tremendous risk to rescue a drowning man.
By Jerome K. Jerome
(1859-1927)
Cats do have a conscience: it tells them when to look innocent.

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Polyword ‘Fete’
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 ‘raised stitching on a cricket ball’ (4 letters), and ‘a 1901 Kipling novel’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FOAL and finish with MARE.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.