Temporary reading room move – September 2021

Between 31 August and 24 September 2021, the reading room will be moving to the Conference Room to make way for essential maintenance work. The Conference Room is located above the current reading room and can be accessed via the staircase or lift from the locker room. Closure days During this period, however, we will […]

People and Places: why The MERL is taking part in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month

Throughout June, The MERL is celebrating Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month. Running since 2008, this month celebrates ‘the remarkable and immense contributions Gypsy, Roma and Traveller individuals and communities bring to wider society’. Its aim is to help tackle prejudice, challenge myths and amplify the voices of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. To some readers, it […]

Mapping the lantern slides

Dr Katrina Navickas is the 2020/21 Open Spaces Society Fellow at The MERL. In this blog, Katrina outlines her work and research in mapping the locations of over 1,000 lantern slides in the Open Spaces Society collection. The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 to campaign for and preserve commons, footpaths and open spaces […]

Working (the land) 9 to 5: rural England and Dolly Parton

So, a quick caveat. Dolly Parton has never been to The MERL. At least, we don’t think so. But that’s not to say that our collection and the history of rural England aren’t filled with objects that have a remarkable Dolly twist. In fact, this article was prompted by the fact that 2021 represents a big […]

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 […]

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? […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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    Visit Us

    We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to The MERL galleries from Tuesday 18th May.

    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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