From chalk to cheese: the new display in the Our Country Lives gallery

As we get ready to share the Museum with visitors once again, Curator of MERL Collections Ollie Douglas is to hand to reveal a change to our displays. As he explains, this has been in the pipeline since we relaunched the galleries in 2016. We are sorry to say it means our first visitors back […]

51 Voices: Pleasure and Pain

This January, The MERL embarked on 51 Voices, a new year-long project celebrating the museum’s seventieth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, we will be working with a range of writers, artists and different communities to give contemporary voice to fifty-one objects and archives in The MERL collection connected in myriad ways to our founding […]

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 […]

Is there (rural) life on Mars?

In March 2020, we tweeted about the concept of rural life on Mars, only to learn that researchers at the University of Reading, our parent organisation, are exploring this very subject. In this blog, hear from UoR researcher Tamisan Latherow as she reflects on her research journey so far: from watching Matt Damon in 2015’s The […]

The Tractor Whisperers

Written by Tim Jerrome. In the first half of the 20th century, Britain was home to myriad secret agricultural societies, such as Horseman’s Word. Yet there was one society which, for many, was only a myth. Known as the Tractor Whisperers, the secretive Order of Credulum tilled the shadows of 20th century rural England, achieving […]

51 Voices: Digging Deeper

This January, The MERL embarked on 51 Voices, a new year-long project celebrating the Museum’s seventieth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, we will be working with a range of writers, artists and different communities to give contemporary voice to fifty-one objects and archives in The MERL collection connected in myriad ways to our founding year. In this […]

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 […]

More Hidden Stories

Written by Sue Spiller, Cultural Commissioning Project Officer at The MERL. Since we told you about our Life Stories Project back in December we have been busy working in partnership with Age UK Berkshire and Younger People with Dementia to gather the stories of some of Reading’s older generation. Finding ourselves in lockdown again meant […]

51 Voices: of Mice and Museums

This January, The MERL embarked on 51 Voices, a new year-long project celebrating the Museum’s seventieth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, we will be working with a range of writers, artists and different communities to give contemporary voice to fifty-one objects and archives in The MERL collection connected in myriad ways to our founding year. In this […]

51 Voices: from Protest to Performance

Last month, The MERL embarked on 51 Voices, a new year-long project celebrating the Museum’s seventieth anniversary in 2021. Throughout the year, we will be working with a range of writers, artists and different communities to give contemporary voice to fifty-one objects and archives in The MERL collection connected in myriad ways to our founding year. In the […]

  • Visit us

    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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