All Posts (649)
Nos 491 to 500
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Liberty and Prosperity
The Repeal of the Corn Laws
The rest of Britain was paying dearly for job security and high wages in Britain’s agriculture industry.

AS overseas trade expanded in her growing empire, Britain’s domestic agriculture industry found itself suffering from competition with cheap imports.

Powerful farming interests lobbied Parliament into passing the Corn Laws in 1815, forbidding imports and guaranteeing high prices, high wages and a captive market for British farmers.

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No. 491
John Field
Lives of the Saints
St Nicholas and the Luckless Sailor
After surviving a terrible storm, a crew-member on St Nicholas’s ship met with a tragic accident.

INTENDING to visit the Holy Sepulchre, Nicholas boarded an Egyptian ship headed for Jerusalem. One night during his voyage, he dreamt that the ship was caught in a terrible storm, and that Satan had cut the rigging and broken the wheel.

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No. 492
George Frideric Handel
Lives of the Saints
The Dove and the Flame
Elfric, Abbot of Eynsham in the reign of Æthelred the Unready, reflects on two appearances of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.
By
Elfric of Eynsham

WHY did the Holy Ghost come in the form of fire over the Apostles, but over Christ in the likeness of a dove?

Because Christ in his humanity was meek and harmless.

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No. 493
Henry Purcell
Stuart Era
The ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688
King James II was forced off the throne in favour of his daughter Mary, and a new English constitution was born.

LIKE his father Charles I, James II believed that as King he had a divine right to govern the country without Parliament’s blessing.

Sensationally, Charles was executed for that belief in 1649; and though England’s eleven years as a Republic had been a disaster, Parliament was unwilling to turn back the clock so far.

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No. 494
Franz Liszt
Modern History
Queen Charlotte’s Christmas Tree
Cromwell’s killjoys almost silenced the English Christmas, but thanks to a royal family tradition the message is still being proclaimed.

IN 1800, King George III’s German-born wife, Charlotte, set up a decorated Christmas tree at a children’s party.

Her grand-daughter Queen Victoria recalled that a candle-lit tree, hung with sugar ornaments, subsequently became a feature of the royal family’s Christmas.

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No. 495
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Modern History
Jemima Fawr and the Last Invasion of Britain
French revolutionaries in a fleet of four ships attempted to spark a revolution in Britain.

ON 22nd February 1797, French warships landed on British soil. Flushed with recent triumphs, the French revolutionaries had dispatched a ragbag of ex-convicts and poorly trained soldiers in just four ships to liberate the British from George III’s tyranny.

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No. 496
John Playford
Christian Customs
The Return of Plum Pudding
The Puritans said it was unfit for God-fearing men, but George I thought it fit for a King.

RICH and luxurious plum pudding was banned as “unfit for God-fearing people” by the republican Puritans in 1647, prompting riots in Kent.

Christmas celebrations returned with Charles II in 1660, and in 1714 King George I requested plum pudding for his first Christmas in England, making it fashionable once again.

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No. 497
Vassilis Tsabropoulos
Lives of the Saints
The Miracle of St John of the Caves
The story of an unexpected escape through the heart of a hill.

BACK in the days of the Byzantine Empire, the people of Paros heard that pirates were yet again patrolling the coast of their island.

As it was the Feast of St John the Evangelist, they ran to a remote monastery dedicated to the saint, shut themselves in, and offered fervent prayers.

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No. 498
Byzantine Chant
Lives of the Saints
St John of Damascus
John’s enduring influence is evident today in the rich sights and sounds of Christian liturgy.

MANSUR Bin Sargun was a Christian in the Syrian court of the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius the Great. After the Muslims took Syria from the Byzantines, Mansur’s son Sarjun served the new Caliph in the same capacity.

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No. 499
John Playford
Music and Musicians
John Playford
In England’s brief but dismal experiment as a Republic, Playford saved traditional English dance music from destruction.
Music by John Playford
(1623-1686)

THE republican Commonwealth of England ruled by Oliver Cromwell from 1649 used government legislation to suppress theatre, dancing, church music, and festivals. John Playford (1623-1686), a music publisher in London, made sure to collect as much music as he could, before it was lost for ever.

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No. 500
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
The young Roman Emperor Theophilus backed away from marriage to the formidable Cassiani, but he could not forget her.
By Sir Walter Scott
(1771-1832)
Sir Walter Scott warned that schoolchildren must not expect to be entertained all the time.
A political rival sends Jason on a hopeless errand, to fetch the golden fleece.
Stephen was the first person to lose his life because he was a follower of Jesus Christ.
Faraday’s work on electromagnetism made him an architect of modern living, and one of Albert Einstein’s three most revered physicists.

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Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Adder’
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 ‘cleansing bar’ (4 letters), and ‘Doncaster horse-race’ (2,5 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FELL and finish with PONY.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.