‘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 […]

Friday Fledglings online – stories, crafts and rainbows

Bringing the outdoors online The MERL’s popular weekly outdoor learning session for under-5s, Friday Fledglings, has moved from The MERL garden to online during the museum closure. Our session leaders Charlotte and Fong have been telling us stories from their gardens and sharing crafts and activities. These activities are inspired by The MERL garden and collections, […]

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? […]

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 […]

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 […]

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    Visit Us

    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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