Everything in life that’s any fun, as somebody wisely observed, is either immoral, illegal or fattening.
P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975), “The Girl in Blue” (1970)
The Co-operative Store at Beamish Museum, County Durham. © Cory Doctorow, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0
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english language and history .com
a celebration in music, word games and two-minute tales
UK summer time

Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

A to Z Index

October 21, 1854
Florence Nightingale is sent to the Crimea
Florence Nightingale
two-part story
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
Florence used her logical mind and society connections to save thousands of lives in the Crimean War.

AFTER reading distressing newspaper accounts of servicemen wounded in the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale, who at that time ran a women’s clinic in London, confided her frustrations to Sidney Herbert at the War Office.

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October 21, 1805
Horatio Lord Nelson defeats French and Spanish ships in the Battle of Trafalgar, Spain
The Battle of Trafalgar
Music: George Frideric Handel
At the cost of his own life, Lord Nelson showed Napoleon that he could rule neither Britain nor the waves.

IN 1805, the French fleet was not at its height. Many able officers had been executed in the Revolution, and memories were still raw of Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798.

Napoleon therefore planned to ally with the Spanish fleet at Cadíz, before daring to confront the Royal Navy in the English Channel.

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Captain Moorsom’s ‘Revenge’
Music: Muzio Clementi
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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The Character of Horatio Lord Nelson
Music: Muzio Clementi
High praise from someone who knew him better than most.
By The Revd Alexander Scott
(1768-1840)

LET the country mourn their hero; I grieve for the loss of the most fascinating companion I ever conversed with — the greatest and most simple of men — one of the nicest and most innocent — interesting beyond all, on shore, in public and even in private life.

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October 21, 1815
George Stephenson personally tests his miner’s safety lamp in explosive gas
The Geordie Lamp
Music: Muzio Clementi
The engineer put his own life on the line for the safety of his fellow-workers in the coal industry.
Based on an account by Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

ONE day in 1814, panic-stricken pitmen burst into George Stephenson’s cottage yards from Killingworth colliery. The pit was on fire!

Stephenson led them to the pit-head, descended the shaft and, with every man looking at him expectantly, called for volunteers.

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Glorious John
Music: Johann Baptist Cramer
JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.

BY 1784, thirteen-year-old Johann Baptist Cramer was such a naturally gifted pianist that Muzio Clementi, his distinguished teacher, performed a duet with him in public. Four years later, Johann toured Europe, and again in 1799, attracting the notice of both Haydn and Beethoven, who declared him the finest pianist of the day.

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Six Posts
The Nine-Day Queen
Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams
Lady Jane Grey’s accession was almost instantly overturned.

JUST before the young King Edward VI, son of Henry VIII, died in 1553, he unexpectedly named Lady Jane Grey as his successor, passing over his half-sisters Elizabeth and Mary.

Jane was Edward’s cousin once removed: Edward’s grandfather King Henry VII was her great-grandfather.

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‘Not one more!’
Music: Muzio Clementi; Sir Hubert Parry
The prospect of facing daunting odds made his cousin quail, but Henry acted like a true King.
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

O DO not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart.

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Wenceslaus: A Life for a Life
Music: Jan Ladislav Dussek
The murder of the ‘good king Wenceslas’ led to a flowering of Christian faith in Europe.

WENCESLAUS succeeded his father Vratislaus as Duke of Bohemia in 921, aged thirteen. At once, his mother Drahomíra reverted to pagan ways, and ruthlessly nullified the influence of her saintly mother-in-law, Ludmilla, by having her strangled.

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Ode to (English) Joy
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was commissioned by a fiercely independent Britain, and Beethoven was excited to oblige.

ON June 9th, 1817, a letter arrived at Ludwig van Beethoven’s residence in Baden informing him that friends at the Philharmonic Society in London, anxious for his well-being and finances, could offer him 300 guineas for two new symphonies by January 1818, to be conducted by Beethoven himself in the capital.

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The Bond of Liberty
Music: John Stanley
Britain’s ‘empire’ owed its existence not to her armies or politicians but to her merchants and her unique brand of liberty.
By Edmund Burke
(1729-1797)

AS long as you have the wisdom to keep the sovereign authority of this country as the sanctuary of liberty, the sacred temple consecrated to our common faith, wherever the chosen race and sons of England worship freedom, they will turn their faces towards you. The more they multiply, the more friends you will have; the more ardently they love liberty, the more perfect will be their obedience.

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Ring out the Old, Ring in the New
Music: Albert Ketèlbey
For Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Christmas was a time to let the dead past bury its dead.
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)

RING out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Continue reading ›
AZ Index

See a complete A-Z List of all the stories on this website.

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Anglo-Saxon History’ (43 posts)
page 1
1 The Bishop and the Chatterbox
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
One week into a Lenten retreat with the Bishop of Hexham, a boy’s miserable life is turned right around.
2 The Restoration of the Icons
By the early eighth century, sacred art was thriving in newly-Christian England, but in the East seeds of doubt and confusion had been sown.
3 ‘Filioque’
It started as an honest mistake, became a diplomatic standoff, and brought down an Empire.
4 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.
5 The Arts of Fair Rowena
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Charles Dickens believed that Britain’s Saxon invaders gained power by force of arms – but not by weapons.
6 Birds of Paradise
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf paints a word-picture of heaven and the seraph-band that swoops and soars before the throne.
page 2
7 Taste and See
Wonder spread through a Tyneside monastery after Bishop Cuthbert asked for a drink of water.
8 Lost Innocence
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
In the fourth century, Britain’s Christians acquired a taste for watering down the mystery of their message.
9 The Last Commandment
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf imagines the farewell between Jesus and his Apostles, forty days after his resurrection.
10 The Battle of Nechtansmere
King Ecgfrith of Northumbria dismissed repeated warnings about his imperial ambitions.
11 St Erkenwald, Light of London
The seventh-century Bishop of London helped kings and clergy to shine Christian light into the darkness of mere religion.
12 The Six Leaps of Faith
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf explores a prophecy from the Song of Solomon.
page 3
13 At Heaven’s Gate
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf takes us to the threshold of God’s holy city, and gives us a choice.
14 Annunciation
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Cynewulf reflects on the mystery of the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary.
15 The Battle of Brunanburh
Athelstan confirmed himself as King of the English, and also reawakened a feeling that all Britain should be a united people.
16 St Chad and the Invisible Choir
Chad, the seventh-century Bishop of Mercia, seemed to be making a lot of music for one man.
17 St Cuthbert and the Phantom Fire
The Northumbrian saint warned of an enemy who would stop at nothing to silence the good news.
18 Cuthbert, the Bridle and the Book
One of England’s most precious artefacts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, was nearly lost at sea.
page 4
19 Gytha and Vladimir
Scandinavian tradition says that the daughter of King Harold was consort to one the great rulers of Kievan Rus’.
20 Gregory and the Slave Children
How some English slave children sparked the conversion of Britain to Christianity.
21 Vinland
Based on
The Saga of Eric the Red
Scandinavian warrior Leif Ericson was sent to bring Christianity to Greenland, but accidentally discovered North America instead.
22 Turning the Tide
By Henry of Huntingdon
(?1088-?1157)
King Canute enacted a memorable demonstration of the limits of government power.
23 The Last English King
The Normans conquered England in 1066, and the country would never be the same again.
24 Wulfstan and the Seal of Approval
Based on an account by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
William the Conqueror’s purge of the English Church was halted by a humble bishop and a dead king.
page 5
25 Terror in the Deep
Irish monk St Columba is credited with being among the first witnesses to the ‘Loch Ness monster’.
26 The Lessons of History
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
England’s first and greatest historian explains why history is so important.
27 St Bede of Wearmouth and Jarrow
The mild-mannered, artistic monk was nevertheless a founding father of the English nation.
28 Welcome to Micklegarth
After the Norman Conquest, thousands of worried Englishmen departed for a new life in the Byzantine world.
29 High Beneath Heaven’s Roof
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The Cross of Christ speaks, and tells of the amazing transformation from sign of shame to sign of redemption.
30 St Aidan Returns King Penda’s Fire
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
When Penda tried to burn down Bamburgh Castle, St Aidan turned the pagan King’s own weapons against him.
page 6
31 Alfred Learns To Read
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Even as a child, King Alfred couldn’t resist a challenge.
32 King Edwin and the Hand of Destiny
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Forced from his throne and threatened with murder, Edwin makes a curious bargain for his deliverance.
33 Caedmon Learns to Sing
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
A shy and unmusical stable-hand suddenly began to sing wise and moving hymns.
34 St Dwynwen
St Dwynwen was a 5th century princess regarded by some as Wales’s answer to St Valentine.
35 The Law of the Innocents
St Adamnán worked tirelessly to secure protection, rights and dignity for the women of Ireland.
36 The Alleluia Victory
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
How hard-pressed Christians on the Welsh border won a battle without bloodshed.
page 7
37 The Battle of the Winwaed
In 655, the future of England as a Christian nation hung by the slenderest of threads.
38 How Alfred Burnt the Cakes
By Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
A popular tale of scorched cakes and a scolded king.
39 The Hermit of Handbridge
By Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
King Harold died at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Or did he?
40 Edith and Edward
Based on an account by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
A King and Queen gentler than the times in which they lived.
41 The Calendar ‘English Style’
An English monk warned of a flaw in the world’s most widely-used calendar.
42 How St Benedict Biscop brought Byzantium to Britain
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The chapel of Bede’s monastery in Sunderland was full of the colours and sounds of the far-off Mediterranean world.
page 8
43 St Hild and the Synod of Whitby
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
The respected Abbess oversaw the English Church’s historic commitment to adopt Byzantine traditions.
which is ‘English Style’ ?
JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Forewarned’
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.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Do you know ‘overbalance’ (6 letters), and ‘veteran’ (3,4 letters)?
Do you know ‘situation of a golf ball’ (3 letters), and ‘the capital of the State of New York’ (6 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
An arithmetical puzzle combining addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and fractions.
Do you know ‘outrage, public disgrace’ (7 letters), and ‘King David of Israel’s third wife’ (7 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
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History (379)
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letters game

Make words from two or more of the tiles below. What is the highest-scoring word you can make?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: High Tiles (Letters Game) Games with Words

numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic