Why do we give each other socks? And other important questions

Written by Nicola Minney. Socks have long been a staple of Christmas gift giving. Where there’s a Christmas tree, there’s a great pair of socks waiting patiently beneath. Luckily, The MERL collection is filled with socks, which – thankfully – are all still paired. In time for the festive season, join us to celebrate this […]

Superstitious in the countryside

Written by Nicola Minney. An active part in the make-up of rural England’s pysche has always been a degree of superstition. In agricultural communities, people’s lives critically depended on bountiful harvests and healthy livestock, as they still do, so the people would be vigilant for any and all signs of looming disaster, of portents and […]

Discovering The Lost Museum

At The MERL, we are delighted to work on creative projects and displays in collaboration with a number of community partners from Reading and further afield. If you visit the Museum at the moment, you will find one such display in The Nook: a community case entitled The Lost Museum, created by the community of […]

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 […]

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 […]

“Gambling with floods?” An immersive Sci-Art exhibition

In this guest blog, Dr Louise Arnal joins us to discuss her immersive SciArt installation “Gambling with Floods?”, which was exhibited at the Museum from the 1st to the 15th November 2019. Through a fusion of scientific and artistic practice, “Gambling with Floods?” invites its viewer to experience first-hand the complexities of forecasting flooding. How […]

Friday Fledglings – Online Special

Hello, everyone! This week, because the museum is closed, we’ll be doing Friday Fledglings a little differently. Rather than meeting in our lovely garden (which we miss very dearly), the brilliant Friday Fledglings team have sent us several fantastic things for kids and their grown-ups to do at home instead! Firstly, Charlotte received a lovely […]

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 […]

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    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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