A week at The MERL: our reflections on COP26

As COP26 unfolded in Glasgow, a range of activity was underway at The MERL, bringing together many different approaches to the issue of the changing climate and its impact on rural livelihoods and wellbeing.

The MERL at 70: introducing 51 Voices

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 […]

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 […]

Breaking the Colour Bar: Amelia King and the Women’s Land Army

To tie in with our Women’s Land Army online exhibition and our most recent ‘object-handling at home’ blog, revolving around a shoe from the Women’s Land Army uniform, in this guest blog researcher 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Object Handling at Home – farm toys

In this post our curator, Ollie Douglas, introduces us to a new display of farm toys, helping us think about how farm miniatures are made and what they tell us about the world. If we were in The MERL we’d be unveiling Playing at Farming, a new farm toy display. Since we aren’t able to […]

Agricultural Shows in the Picture

As we enter the virtual showground and magnificent new website of The Greatest Online Agricultural Show to celebrate our friends in the virtual farming community, we wanted to post to our own blog to mark the moment. What better time for our curator Ollie Douglas to delve into the rich culture and history of agricultural shows? […]

  • Visit us

    Visit Us

    We are now fully open.

    Free admission.

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

    Plan your visit
  • Visit us

    Visit Us

    We are now fully open.

    Free admission.

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

    Plan your visit