Update on Coronavirus

In light of the latest government advice regarding the developing COVID-19 situation, we have made the difficult decision to cancel all events and external visits due to take place at The MERL and Special Collections until the end of April. In addition, the museum and the reading room will close at 5pm on Friday 20th […]

Reading room closure: 29 June – 10 July 2020

The MERL and University of Reading Special Collections reading room will be closed during the period 29 June – 10 July 2020 for essential works. We have secured the funds to create digital access study booths in the reading room. This will allow us to provide researcher access to digital copies of film, high quality […]

Revealing the archives of the Open Spaces Society

Helena Clarkson, a Project Archivist at the museum, writes about our ongoing work with the fantastic archives of the Open Spaces Society, a registered charity dedicated to preserving commons across England and Wales. At the museum, we’ve made significant progress on an exciting project involving the collections of the Open Spaces Society, a registered charity that […]

Lace Tellings by Jackie Oates

Jackie Oates and Pete Flood have spent the last two years as folk musicians-in-residence at The MERL, supported by EFDSS. Jackie has worked with community groups in Reading, singing lullabies with the museum’s Friday Fledglings under-5s group and ‘work songs’ with the Mewes Knitters. But the focus of her final piece, Lace Tellings, was inspired […]

The Last Dipper by Pete Flood

Pete Flood and Jackie Oates have spent the last two years as folk musicians-in-residence at The MERL, supported by EFDSS, working on projects inspired by the museum’s themes and collections. Last year, Pete ran workshops with young percussionists focusing on ‘rough music‘, tackling issues of bullying and exclusion. Now, ahead of a final performance at South Street […]

A Land Down Under

Anthropologist and Collections Volunteer Paul Trawick continues his journey of subsoil discovery, exploring the role of land drainage on English farms. In his first post – What Lies Beneath? – he introduced us to these little-known systems. In this installment he elaborates further on their history and how they work… We have already seen how […]

My Country Arts Award

Over the last six weeks we have had the pleasure of welcoming Rebecca to The MERL on Supported Work Placement. Rebecca is a student in Reading College’s LLD/D (Learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities department) and she has spent her time with us learning about the museum, being inspired by our collections and has worked […]

Our newest exhibition is causing quite the buzz

Fiona Melhuish (UMASCS Librarian) writes about our new exhibition on the fascinating Cowan Bee Collection at The MERL: Last year, we were very pleased to report that The MERL had acquired the Cowan Bee Collection, a library of 1,800 volumes of books, pamphlets and journals relating to bees and beekeeping, which has been described as […]

AniMERL – an autumn of animals at The MERL

Over recent years, thanks to the attention of influencers such as J. K. Rowling and a massive and supportive social media following, The MERL has become known for its forays into the beastlier facets of the farm. This has provided us with a visual petting zoo of trousered chickens and tragic mice, colossal rams, curious […]

A Future for Fowler: steam collection conserved

The Fowler Collection at The MERL John Fowler and Co., (Leeds) Ltd. was one the world’s leading manufacturers of steam engines of the mid-nineteenth century. The Fowler collection held at The MERL contains production registers, photograph albums, drawings and other business records of exceptional quality. It is a very popular archive with steam enthusiasts researching […]

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

    Free Admission

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

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