The chicken and the egg: the David Scrivener Collection

Which came first? Discover all things poultry, chickens and eggs in our new Staircase Hall exhibition celebrating the completion of the cataloguing of the David Scrivener Collection: The chicken and the egg, from 12th November 2018. Written by Claudia Ricci, Project Cataloguer. Thanks to the generous support of The Poultry Club of Great Britain we […]

10 Reasons You Should Adopt an Archive Box

UPDATE: We never imagined what an amazing response we’d get to our appeal, so thank you to everyone who has already donated! We reached our initial target within just a couple of weeks! This means we can rehouse the damaged negatives as we urgently need to. We’re keeping the campaign open though, as every further […]

Chicken in trousers? What’s next – a cow wearing wellies?

Tens of thousands of you have enjoyed a chicken in trousers from The MERL over the weekend. A series of amazing doodles in the margins of an old maths book went viral in a Twitter thread, which offered a peek into the world of an eighteenth-century teenager from Biddenden, Kent, as well as an amusing […]

Searching for the Extraordinary

Heritage Open Days (HOD) were approaching, and my fellow MERL volunteer Kaye and I were anticipating, as we do every year, the fun of taking groups of visitors around our lovely Grade 2 listed building, East Thorpe. It’s now home to The MERL admin. offices, the archives and the reading room, but in times past was the […]

Women of Ladybird: New Feminism in Old Tales

What was your favourite Ladybird Book growing up? What did you learn the most from it? Ladybird Books are iconic for generations who grew up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, but they weren’t just educational tools. The subliminal messages throughout the pages of Ladybird books helped establish the gender roles and expectations within society […]

The history behind an absolute unit

Written by Dr Ollie Douglas, Curator of MERL Collections Intrigued by the photo of the‘absolute unit’ that’s been doing the rounds on social media? Why was this ram such a unit? Why is livestock so often large and… well, stocky? And why does the Museum of English Rural Life have massive numbers of photos, prints and paintings of enormous farm animals? Well, here’s a short cartoon made […]

‘The Poetry Survives’: Lindsay Anderson’s ‘Foot and Mouth’

Written by Jack Thacker, Poet in residence. Two months into my time as residency at the MERL, and I’ve discovered a wide range of objects and archival documents to inspire my poetry. The process, so far, has been one of gathering: which hand tool might prompt a poem, which diary or artwork can I mine for […]

The Land Girl’s Lament: Tracking a mystery poet

This is the story of trying to find a lost land girl. It began when a poem recently arrived at the MERL (reference D DX2222, to be exact). It is written by a Land Girl who talks of both the perceptions and the reality of what a land girl does. The person who gave us […]

Something worth crowing about: our new Poultry Archive project

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new project to develop and explore some of our poultry-related archive collections! Whether your interest is professional, amateur or just beginning, we will have delights from our archives and library aplenty for you over the coming months. Thanks to the generous support of the Poultry Club […]

Research bursaries available: Land Settlement Association and Landscape Institute

This year, thanks to the generous funding from an anonymous donor and the Landscape Institute we are pleased to offer bursaries to encourage use and engagement with our Land Settlement or Landscape Institute archives. The Land Settlement Association was established in 1934 to provide employment on the land for unemployed industrial workers from depressed areas.  Find out more here. The Landscape Institute was founded in 1929 […]

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

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    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road

    Reading

    RG1 5EX

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