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 […]

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 […]

‘Muscle Memory: the story of a pair of clogs’ by Hannah James

For the 2018 MERL Annual Lecture we presented ‘Muscle Memory’, a world-premiere performance from award-winning accordionist, singer and clog dancer Hannah James, developed in response to the collections at The MERL and the traditions that have helped shaped them. One of the key figures in the revival of English percussive dance, Hannah’s musicianship takes her […]

Revealing the Concealed: English Folk Culture and Superstition

During the late medieval and early Tudor era, when superstition about witchcraft and the supernatural was at its height, people in England sought new forms of protection, and, for some, new ways of inflicting harm. It was at this time that many turned to concealing objects. Often found close to entrances, including doorways and fireplaces, […]

The Outside In: A Q&A with Steven Claydon on The MERL

Artist Steven Claydon is interested in the cultural histories and narratives acquired by objects and artworks over time – like objects in The MERL collections, which have been removed from everyday life, put on display in a museum, and given new value as artefacts of cultural heritage. Through playful juxtapositions and manipulations of material and […]

A snap chat about new photos of country shows

The next exciting instalment of our current Land and Folk seminar series brings the story of photographer Arnhel de Serra’s ongoing project, The Country Show, to The MERL for the very first time (see here for details). This body of work has been over a decade in the making and is the result of his […]

If you go down to The MERL today…

…you’re sure of a big surprise! No teddies, we’re afraid, but you will definitely notice some surprising changes! From 20th October, we’re bringing The Outside In as host to artist Steven Claydon’s new exhibition in partnership with Reading International, Reading’s new contemporary visual arts organisation. Claydon’s work explores how objects gain meaning, and how this is shaped by the way […]

Why the Folk?

Written by Dr Ollie Douglas, Curator of MERL Collections Here at The MERL we like short, snappy titles. We are especially fond of rurally-themed four-letter words. Nothing too crude, of course. We prefer wholesome, nostalgic words linked to our collections. MAKE. MILK. WOOL. Even UNIT sort of fits the mould. Based on these criteria alone, […]

Friday Fledglings: What’s it all about?

Friday Fledglings is the MERL’s weekly outdoor learning session for under 5s.  It has gone from strength to strength since it launched in November 2016, shortly after the redeveloped museum reopened. But what is it all about? We had a chat with Charlotte Allchin, a freelance Forest School Leader, who plans and delivers the sessions, […]

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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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