The Tractor Whisperers

Written by Tim Jerrome. In the first half of the 20th century, Britain was home to myriad secret agricultural societies, such as Horseman’s Word. Yet there was one society which, for many, was only a myth. Known as the Tractor Whisperers, the secretive Order of Credulum tilled the shadows of 20th century rural England, achieving […]

51 Voices: Digging Deeper

This January, The MERL embarked on 51 Voices, a new year-long project celebrating the Museum’s seventieth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, we will be working with a range of writers, artists and different communities to give contemporary voice to fifty-one objects and archives in The MERL collection connected in myriad ways to our founding year. In this […]

Horseman’s Word: a secret society of horse wizards

In The MERL reading room, we keep a collection of documents that we call ‘Classified Files’. These are not about UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, or sightings of Big Foot in rural Essex. Instead, they are copies of documents, arranged by MERL classification.  However, the Classified Files do contain many remarkable rural secrets. Which is […]

More Hidden Stories

Written by Sue Spiller, Cultural Commissioning Project Officer at The MERL. Since we told you about our Life Stories Project back in December we have been busy working in partnership with Age UK Berkshire and Younger People with Dementia to gather the stories of some of Reading’s older generation. Finding ourselves in lockdown again meant […]

51 Voices: of Mice and Museums

This January, The MERL embarked on 51 Voices, a new year-long project celebrating the Museum’s seventieth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, we will be working with a range of writers, artists and different communities to give contemporary voice to fifty-one objects and archives in The MERL collection connected in myriad ways to our founding year. In this […]

Queer Rural Connections: queer history and belonging in the countryside

This summer, The MERL will host the Queer Rural Connections live promenade show and documentary film, which will share the stories and experiences of queer rural people. Below, Timothy Allsop, writer, actor, and director, tells us about the ideas behind the project, what he hopes it will achieve, and the challenges he has faced so […]

51 Voices: from Protest to Performance

Last month, The MERL embarked on 51 Voices, a new year-long project celebrating the Museum’s seventieth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, we will be working with a range of writers, artists and different communities to give contemporary voice to fifty-one objects and archives in The MERL collection connected in myriad ways to our founding year. In the […]

Staff Stories – what Culture Recovery Fund support means to us

On July 5 2020, the Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced an unprecedented, world-leading £1.57 billion rescue package for cultural and heritage organisations to help them weather the impact of coronavirus. Under an £880m grants programme managed by Arts Council England, The MERL was awarded £74,248. The funding […]

The MERL is 70!

In this post Curator of MERL Collections, Dr Ollie Douglas, introduces us to 51 Voices, a new project celebrating the creation of the Museum seven decades ago. The team have been delving into our stores to find objects that tell diverse stories about the year of our birth – 1951. As Ollie explains, this mid-century moment […]

Hidden Stories

The MERL – so much more than simply galleries for people to visit…. The MERL prides itself in being part of the local Reading community beyond the walls of the museum. Recently we have had the opportunity to partner with Age UK Berkshire to take our collections to a whole new audience and we jumped […]

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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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