All Posts (649)
Nos 511 to 520
Anglo-Saxon History
How Alfred Burnt the Cakes
A popular tale of scorched cakes and a scolded king.
By Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)

ALFRED was only twenty-two years old when he came to the throne, and the kingdom was overrun everywhere with the Danes.

At last he had so very few faithful men left him, that he thought it wise to send them away, and take refuge in the Somersetshire marsh country.

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No. 511
Gioachino Rossini
Greek History
The Third Siege of Missolonghi
The cruelty of the Ottoman Turks so shocked Europe that the tide of opinion turned against them.

FROM 15th April, 1825, to 10th April the following year, the city of Missolonghi near Corinth in Greece was subjected to a pitiless siege by the ruling Ottoman Empire.

It was the third siege suffered by the town, and the most devastating.

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No. 512
2 two-part story
Sir William Sterndale Bennett and York Bowen
Stories in Short
The Hobbit
Tolkien’s tale of dragons, magic rings and enchanted gold is one of the masterpieces of English literature.
Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
(1892-1973)

THORIN, a proud king among dwarves, was heir to a kingdom deep beneath the Lonely Mountain, and to the vast treasure within. However, the dragon Smaug was now lying on that treasure, and as warriors were rare, Thorin was looking for a burglar to help him steal it.

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No. 513
Thomas Arne
Music and Musicians
Lessons in British values for a Future King
‘Rule Britannia’ was a discreet way of telling a German prince what was expected of a British King.
Music by Thomas Arne
(1710-1778)

THOMAS Arne’s Masque ‘Alfred’ was first performed for Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1740.

It was a drama about King Alfred, who in the 9th century defeated the invading Danes, united the petty kingdoms of England, and established the first English navy.

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No. 514
Henry Purcell
Tales from the Bible
David and Bathsheba
David’s scheme to steal another man’s wife succeeded, but he could not keep his secret from everyone.

DAVID became captivated by a young woman called Bathsheba, and wanted her for his wife.

When he discovered that she was already married, he contrived to have her husband, Uriah, drafted into the Israelite army, and posted to the front line.

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No. 515
Sir Arthur Sullivan
Discovery and Invention
The Rewards of ‘Patience’
How appropriate that the comic opera ‘Patience’ should introduce the world to the results of thirty years of labour.

ON December 28, 1881, the D’Oyly Carte Opera company presented ‘Patience’ at the Savoy, their theatre in the Strand. Words were by W. S. Gilbert, music was by Arthur Sullivan.

Lighting was by Joseph Swan, a chemist from Newcastle who had already patented a form of photographic paper that had revolutionised the camera.

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No. 516
Greek and Roman Myths
Perseus and the Gorgon
When Polydectes, King of Seriphos, sent Perseus to get the Gorgon’s head, he hoped the boy would never come back.

POLYDECTES, King of Seriphos, coveted Danaë, but he was afraid of her young son Perseus.

So the King demanded that the boy leave the island, and not return without the head of the Gorgon Medusa, so hideous that to look on her would turn a man to stone.

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No. 517
2 two-part story
Sir George Macfarren
Greek and Roman Myths
Jason and the Golden Fleece
A political rival sends Jason on a hopeless errand, to fetch the golden fleece.

WHEN Jason arrived in the Kingdom of Iolcus wearing one sandal, his uncle King Pelias was anxious. He had stolen the crown from Jason’s father, and had been told that a youth wearing one shoe would one day kill him.

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No. 518
Greek and Roman Myths
Phrixus and the Golden Fleece
Long before Jason came to claim it, the golden fleece had already saved a boy’s life.

INO, second wife of the Bœotian King Athamas, hated her stepchildren, Phrixus and Helle, with an ungovernable passion.

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No. 519
George Frideric Handel
Stuart Era
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot
Only an anonymous tip-off prevented England losing her sovereignty as well as her King.

UNDER Elizabeth I and then James I, Roman Catholics in England were fined, imprisoned, or even executed for refusing to acknowledge the English monarch as Head of the Church.

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No. 520
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
Music by George Frideric Handel
(1685-1759)
The first thing George Frideric Handel’s oratorio ‘Messiah’ did was to set a hundred and forty-two prisoners free.
By Edith Nesbit
(1858-1924)
‘Be careful what you wish for’, they say, and there could be no more endearing example.
The Church’s campaigns against slavery were boosted by competition for labour after the Black Death.
Music by Thomas Arne
(1710-1778)
‘Rule Britannia’ was a discreet way of telling a German prince what was expected of a British King.
The wandering King was alive after all - unknown to his “widow’s” suitors.

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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 ‘Haul’
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 ‘bashful’ (3), and ‘an open area of shrubs and coarse grass’ (5)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with PIG and finish with STY.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.