Playtime during the pandemic

In this post, our curator, Dr Ollie Douglas, explores his own rural upbringing and introduces new research by colleagues at the University of Reading interested in childhood, outdoor access, the countryside, and the current pandemic. He invites us to contribute towards a survey linked to how children have responded to coronavirus by incorporating health-related narratives […]

The MERL receives Culture Recovery Fund grant

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 […]

Hidden Nature: The MERL’s Lockdown Garden

Every Wednesday, The MERL’s group of gardening volunteers – the Wednesday Wheelbarrows – meet in the Museum garden. Lovingly and expertly, they tend to our many vegetable plots, raised beds, herb garden, and more, and support gardening projects undertaken by the Museum’s community groups, University students, and the under 5s of our Friday Fledglings. After […]

Breaking the Colour Bar

To tie in with our new online exhibition and most recent ‘object-handling at home’ blog, in this post Tamisan Latherow introduces us to the little-known and extraordinary story of one particular land girl. Amelia King was of Afro-Caribbean ancestry and her wartime story is one that highlights the racism faced by people of colour in mid-twentieth […]

Object-handling at home – Women’s Land Army shoes

In this post our curator, Ollie Douglas, introduces us to explore shoes issued to members of the Women’s Land Army during the Second World War and invites us to visit our new online ‘Land Girls’ exhibition. He describes some simple, hands-on (and ‘feet-in’) ways for us to learn about the footwear given to ‘land girls’, encouraging us to think about […]

‘I, Sheep’ and capturing the intangible countryside

In the countryside, time is strange. The pace of life may appear glacial, and as old as the hills. Our countryside might seem as static and carefully tended as a museum object. But rural places are also dipped in seasonality and drenched in constant change. They follow the repeating rhythm of the annual round. Sheep […]

Friday Fledglings online – stories, crafts and rainbows

Bringing the outdoors online The MERL’s popular weekly outdoor learning session for under-5s, Friday Fledglings, has moved from The MERL garden to online during the museum closure. Our session leaders Charlotte and Fong have been telling us stories from their gardens and sharing crafts and activities. These activities are inspired by The MERL garden and collections, […]

Digital Access to The MERL Collections

Today, we are publishing our plans to increase digital access to our collections. There is a new digital access guide here During the lockdown, we have continued to make available content that has already been digitised, launching new websites and schools resources, answering research enquiries, and creating online exhibitions. From 13 July, we will be […]

Farming and mental health – past and present

Covid-19 is already having a massive economic, social, and psychological impact on rural communities and the farming sector. The impact on mental health and wellbeing will be ongoing, adding to existing pressures. In this post, Dr Sarah Holland of the University of Nottingham explores the historic relationship between rural communities, farming, and mental health. She draws […]

Contested Countryside: Commons & the Cold War

This ‘Contested Countryside’ blog by Felicity McWilliams tells a story from the Museum’s newly acquired archives of the Open Spaces Society, Britain’s oldest national conservation body. It explores the disproportionate impact of a small group of West Berkshire Commoners on the US-USSR nuclear arms race in the 1980s. Greenham Common is an 855-acre gravel plateau […]

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    Visit Us

    We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to The MERL from Tues 8th September.

    Free Admission. Please book a timed slot.

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

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