What's on



    • March 16 - January 3, 2021
    • 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
    • Free

    To see the exhibition, please book a timed entry slot to the museum



      • August 17 - October 31
      • 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
      • Free


      Events and workshops

      • October 24 - November 1
      • 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
      • Free

      Please book your visit to the museum

      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.

      Discovering The Lost Museum

      Learn about a fantastic heritage project by Reading's Dee Park community

      Playtime during the pandemic

      Find out how you can contribute to a new research project

      The MERL receives Culture Recovery Fund grant

      Image showing the logo of Here For Culture and The MERL's garden.

      Press release: The MERL receives financial boost for digital engagement and programmes for local communities

      12th October (13:00pm)

      The Museum of English Rural Life has been awarded £74,248 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today.

      The Museum of English Rural Life is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

      Since its foundation in 1951, The Museum of English Rural Life has been internationally recognised as a pioneering source of curatorial insight into English rural heritage. Today, its  diverse programming supports schools, local community groups, volunteers, and University students, and its innovative solutions for sharing rural history resonate online with a global audience. The Museum was required to dramatically reimagine its offer during closure and the coronavirus pandemic. This was achieved with huge success, but the absence of visitors had a significant impact on the Museum’s income generation. This additional Arts Council England support will enable the Museum to continue its much-loved programming with confidence, whilst facilitating additional opportunities for its audience to enjoy over the coming months.

      Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

      “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.

      “These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

      Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said:

      “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”

      Director, The Museum of English Rural Life, Kate Arnold-Forster, said:

       “This is fantastic news for all of us at The MERL. Throughout this difficult year we have had to dramatically reimagine all parts of our offer – from changing how we share our collections for digital visitors, to moving our work with local schools and the community online, and adapting our events programme to this new world of Zoom and video-conferencing.

      This has been an enormous challenge, but I am incredibly proud of the amazing work accomplished by all the Museum team. Since March, our innovative use of social media has led to our tweets and shares being seen almost 50 million times, whilst huge numbers of people continue visiting and enjoying the rich and varied content on our website.

      This new funding will enable us to sustain and explore many new opportunities. Throughout 2021 we will now be running an extensive project called 51 Voices, celebrating 70 years since the Festival of Britain and the year of the Museum’s foundation through a year-long series of creative responses to our collections.”

      Notes to editors:

      Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision. www.artscouncil.org.uk

      Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of several bodies administering the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund and unprecedented support package of £1.57 billion for the culture and heritage sector. Find out more at www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19.

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      Monday, October 26th, 2020 at 9:12am
      @KWerzun Definitely! Both woodlands and jam are very close to our hearts. But it's such a lovely idea we think, in general!
    • The Museum of English Rural Life

      University of Reading

      Redlands Road


      RG1 5EX

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