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Did you know

...city families used to pick hops on holiday?

Hop picking holidays allowed city families to earn money. Pickers were paid with tokens, which were used in local shops or exchanged for wages.

Did you know

...Elizabethan mattresses were used for both childbirth and corpses?

Mattresses, plaited from sedges, were made to support a mother during childbirth or a corpse after death. After use it would have been burned.

Did you know

...farmers used to sow seeds by fiddle?

Sowing by hand can be slow and inaccurate. Seed drills were developed in the 1800s to sow seeds quickly in a straight line at regular intervals.

Did you know

...Lady Eve Balfour (1898-1990) was one of the earliest organic farmers and co-founded the Soil Association?

Women continue to play a key role in this movement, with organic farms employing significantly more women than chemical farming.

Did you know

...Suttons Seeds invented the seed packet?

The local Reading firm, founded in 1806, popularised paper packets of seeds for gardeners.

Did you know

...villages often used to run their own fire services?

The National Fire Service was only created in 1941.

Did you know


Our Country Lives - Latest Blog Posts

Our blog explores the people, places and issues of the historic and contemporary English countryside and rural life, uncovering and exploring our collections, the exciting activity around the MERL and the people we with.

‘I, Sheep’ and capturing the intangible countryside

MERL Curator Ollie Douglas revisits 'the Museum of the Intangible', a project which commissioned creative responses to parts of rural life that prove hard to capture in traditional forms. This moment of reflection comes as the final piece in this series of works – a film poem called I, Sheep – is ready to share.

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Monday, August 10th, 2020 at 9:13am
@lorensztajer Hello! The yellow triangle is actually the beak of a blackbird, as the French word for blackbird is 'merle'!
  • The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road


    RG1 5EX

    Need directions?