Women of Ladybird: New Feminism in Old Tales

What was your favourite Ladybird Book growing up? What did you learn the most from it? Ladybird Books are iconic for generations who grew up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, but they weren’t just educational tools. The subliminal messages throughout the pages of Ladybird books helped establish the gender roles and expectations within society […]

Why the Folk?

Written by Dr Ollie Douglas, Curator of MERL Collections Here at The MERL we like short, snappy titles. We are especially fond of rurally-themed four-letter words. Nothing too crude, of course. We prefer wholesome, nostalgic words linked to our collections. MAKE. MILK. WOOL. Even UNIT sort of fits the mould. Based on these criteria alone, […]

We can’t believe we get to do this with chickens

Written by Rhiannon Watkinson – Audience Development Project Officer We all know those conversations you have at work – especially when you work in a museum – where you can’t quite believe what you are being asked to be involved with. It went like this: “There’s a great new project that we’d like you to […]

Ladybird in Focus: Creating a Making display!

12 cotton reels 4 corks a jar of clear Vaseline a blue feather an empty washing up liquid tube or paint tube an assortment of coloured felt. These were just some of the items that made up a list emailed around to colleagues at the beginning of January 2018. The ‘Ladybird in Focus’ case in the Ladybird […]

Autumn is Here: Grab Your Mattock, People!

September. The darker nights are drawing in, casseroles will soon be making a triumphant return to our kitchen tables, and mattocks are having a moment. That’s right, mattocks. The ultimate Autumn tool for farmers everywhere. But what are these mysterious tools, and why have they been so important to agriculture through the ages? What’s the […]

Changes to reading room bookings and self-service photography

If you’ve visited the reading room recently, you may have noticed that we’ve been rather busy. It’s terrific to see so many people, especially new visitors, making use of the collections. All the work we do behind the scenes is so that our collections can be accessed and enjoyed by the public. These range from […]

‘Handling’ by poet in residence, Jack Thacker

Written by Jack Thacker. Jack’s first book, ‘Handling’, is a gathering of poems based on personal experience and arising from time spent this year as poet-in-residence at The MERL. For nearly a decade now I’ve been writing poems about my experiences growing up on a small farm in Herefordshire. More recently, I’ve been exploring the […]

The MERL and Reading Museum: Working together

In a further boost to Reading’s cultural renaissance, the Museum of English Rural Life and Reading Museum will be working together as Museums Partnership Reading until 2022. The partnership is funded by Arts Council England’s (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation scheme, and will see the two museums using £250,000 per year to improve educational opportunities for young people, host joint exhibitions, […]

Life of the People

Written by Chip Colquhoun, storyteller and author Last summer I was invited to the MERL to take part in a workshop for the Museum of the Intangible project, and was asked to produce a creative response to the collections. This project is all about exploring the potential of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and creative and […]

The MERL Test Bed: Germination!

The MERL Test Bed is used to test scientific ideas and hypotheses, with the environmental data of the bed communicated to the Internet of Things. The Bed was originally made in a Wellcome Trust-funded project and in collaboration with rLab, Reading’s Hackspace. This year University of Reading Soil Science PhD students Marijke Struijk and Harriet Robson […]

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    The Museum reopened in October 2016, following a major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

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