Press Release: Uni Museum brings rural past alive for families

With the school summer holidays approaching, the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) is launching new family tours as part of its exciting summer programme.

The Museum, which is owned and managed by the University of Reading, was recently nominated as one of the country’s top 20 Family Friendly museums by Kids in Museums, but far from being content with this achievement, the team at the Museum is constantly looking for ways of improving visits for its youngest visitors and encouraging families to come enjoy the Museum.

This August families will be able to take part in free, interactive tours specially designed to help them engage with and understand the stories behind the Museum’s collections.

Families will meet characters from England’s rural past, such as Alan the sheep shearer, Dave the blacksmith, Molly the dairy maid, Gabriel the farm hand and Maggie the Thatcher and visit the Museum with them as they bring to life what it was like to work in the villages, farms and fields of the past and tell their personal stories. Each 30 minute tour will be delivered by two characters from the team.

The tours have been developed by staff and volunteers in the MERL tour guide team with the aim of bringing to life the objects on display in the Museum and helping families get an idea of what kind of lives the people who used them might have lived.

Kaye Gough, MERL volunteer (Gabriel the farm hand) said: “We’ve had tremendous fun creating this series of family tours. We hope the visitors who join us will enjoy it as much as us. We hope visitors learn more about this fascinating museum and the stories it has to tell.”

Rob Davies, Volunteer Coordinator, said “Once again, our volunteers have surpassed themselves with their dedication and positive attitude to another project. Every character has been carefully researched and we are sure that visitors will have a fun and educational experience!”

The tours take place on 8th, 15th and 22nd August, at 11:30 at the Museum of English Rural Life, they are free but booking is required as places are limited.  To book, and for details of the tours and other events in the Museum’s programme of summer events for families, visit the website at or call 0118 378 8660 during opening hours.


For more information about the MERL’s summer programme, visit or call 0118 378 8660.

For more information for media, contact Alison Hilton, Marketing Officer at the Museum of English Rural Life on 0118 378 8660 or Pete Castle at the University of Reading press office on 0118 378 7391 or

Notes to editors:

MERL, part of the University of Reading, draws on and adds to the University’s unique research into agriculture, history and rural practices, and has collections permanently open to the public at the University’s historic and recently refurbished London Road campus.

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