All Posts (676)
Nos 71 to 80
1 6 7 8 9 10 68
George Frideric Handel
Lives of the Saints
Anglo-Saxon Britain (410-1066)
St Bede and the Singing Stones
The Northumbrian monk is duped into wasting one of his beautifully-crafted sermons on a row of dumb rocks.
Based on The Golden Legend
(1275)

AS BEDE came to the end of his life, his eyesight started to fail. He did not ease up in his duties, though, and with the help of a guide continued to make his rounds of the nearby villages, preaching in the open air to any who cared to attend.

One day, his guide led him to a place where there were many standing stones, but no people. Bede, peering owlishly, nonetheless embarked on a sermon.

Continue reading
No. 71
George Frideric Handel
Lives of the Saints
Anglo-Saxon Britain (410-1066)
St Wilfrid and the Fishers of Men
Driven out of Northumbria, Bishop Wilfrid goes to the south coast and saves a kingdom from starvation.
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)

WHEN Wilfrid came to Sussex in 681, he found that the region had been suffering three years of continuous drought. Though they lived by the coast, the locals could do no more that snare a few eels in the muddy rivers, and sometimes forty or fifty would link arms and leap from a cliff-top, preferring to drown in the sea rather than starve.

Continue reading
No. 72
John Field
Cats, Dogs and Other Animals
King George III (1760-1820)
A Tax on Companionship
William Windham MP was appalled at the idea of levying a tax on man’s best friend.
By William Windham MP
(1750-1810)

IT was unworthy [said Mr Windham]of this or any other country, to levy a rate on any animal, because that animal was not employed in tilling ground, or because the poor might feed on dogs’ provisions. It appeared as if there was not room enough on earth for men and dogs.

Continue reading
No. 73
2 two-part story
Elias Parish Alvars
Discovery and Invention
King William IV (1830-1837)
The Liverpool and Manchester Railway
Businessmen in Liverpool engaged George Stephenson to build one of his new-fangled railways.

ON May 24th, 1823, Liverpool corn merchant Henry Booth founded the Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company, to build nothing less than the world’s first intercity railway. The canals had created lucrative markets by linking the port at Liverpool to bustling manufacturing towns inland, but were overwhelmed by rising demand.

Continue reading
No. 74
Jan Ladislav Dussek
Abolition of Slavery
An Incorrigible Fanatic
William Wilberforce told Parliament that the more his opponents slandered him, the more he was sure he was winning.
By William Wilberforce
(1759-1833)

THIS work of humanity [said Mr Wilberforce] would at last make its way into the heads and hearts, the understandings and the feelings, of the whole mass of the nation, and would triumph over all opposition. The opposition that had been already overcome afforded him a complete pledge of final success.

Continue reading
No. 75
2 two-part story
William Byrd and John Playford
Stuart Era
King James I (1603-1625)
The Winter Queen
Conspiracies and dynastic expectations swirled around James I’s daughter from the age of nine.

IN 1605, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators tried to assassinate King James I, and put his nine-year-old daughter Elizabeth Stuart on his throne as a puppet. As they were Roman Catholics hoping to rejoin Britain to Papal politics, marriage to one of the Catholic dynasties of Europe would surely have followed.

Continue reading
No. 76
2 two-part story
Georgy Vasilyevich Sviridov and Matthew Locke
Lives of the Saints
‘Filioque’
It started as an honest mistake, became a diplomatic standoff, and brought down an Empire.

IN 587, a provincial Synod in Toledo recited the Creed approved by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and declared that the Holy Spirit proceeds ‘from the Father and the Son’. Apparently, the bishops quite genuinely thought this was the Creed as used in the East, for they repeated Chalcedon’s declaration that the Creed must never be altered.

Continue reading
No. 77
2 two-part story
Louis Spohr
Extracts from Literature
Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
The Start of a Beautiful Friendship
Dr Watson is looking for rooms in London, and an old colleague suggests someone who might be able to help him.
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(1859-1930)

SHERLOCK Holmes seemed delighted at the idea of sharing his rooms with me. “I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street,” he said, “which would suit us down to the ground. You don’t mind the smell of strong tobacco, I hope?”

Continue reading
No. 78
George Frideric Handel
Lives of the Saints
The Synod of Hatfield
Pope Agatho reached out to the English church to help him make his case at an important Council in the Imperial capital.

IN 680, Pope Agatho asked Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Rome, and declare that beside his divine will, Christ has a will like any other man’s. To heal a two-hundred-year-old breach with churches in Egypt and Syria, the Imperial authorities in Constantinople were teaching that he does not, and brooking no dissent.

Continue reading
No. 79
Charles Villiers Stanford
Liberty and Prosperity
Judicial Iniquity
John Stuart Mill reminds us that governments and the courts must never be allowed to criminalise matters of belief or opinion.
By John Stuart Mill
(1806-1873)

BORN in an age and country abounding in individual greatness, this man [Socrates] has been handed down to us by those who best knew both him and the age, as the most virtuous man in it; while we know him as the head and prototype of all subsequent teachers of virtue, the source equally of the lofty inspiration of Plato and the judicious utilitarianism of Aristotle, the two headsprings of ethical as of all other philosophy.

Continue reading
No. 80
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
For centuries, northern countries from Russia to England have laid the catkins of the willow tree before Jesus as he enters Jerusalem.
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)
The legendary British warrior makes ready for his final journey, leaving Sir Bedivere with one last duty to perform.
South African settlers of Dutch descent could not escape the march of the British Empire.
By John Buchan
(1875-1940)
In John Buchan’s story about the Great War, Richard Hannay must watch as his friend sacrifices his life for the Allies.
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was commissioned by a fiercely independent Britain, and Beethoven was excited to oblige.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (414)
Polywords (185)
Georgian Era (113)
Fiction (85)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Railways (24)
Triplets (23)
Stuart Era (17)
India (14)
Tudor Era (11)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Peal’
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 ‘pull along’ (3 letters), and ‘examine someone’s background and credentials’ (3 letters)?
Change KEEP into MOAT, one letter at a time.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.