Volunteer retires after 23 years at The MERL

Staff and volunteers gathered for a special celebratory coffee morning honouring the sterling service of volunteer, Ron Butler, who is retiring after volunteering for an amazing 23 years at The MERL. The icing on the cake was that Ron was selected to receive the 2018 University of Reading’s Alumni Society’s Distinguished Volunteer Award. Ron and […]

Stepping out of time with Hannah James at The MERL Annual Lecture

Stepping out of Time, this year’s MERL Annual Lecture, is no ordinary lecture… This year, we are in for a treat as award-winning accordionist, singer and clog dancer Hannah James performs her new work, ‘Muscle Memory’, which we have commissioned as part our project Making, Using and Enjoying: The Museum of the Intangible, funded by […]

Why is a chicken wearing trousers?

The inclusion of an image of a chicken wearing trousers is one of the more surprising aspects of Richard Beale’s mathematical notebook. As usual with stories that go viral on the internet, conspiracy theories have already sprung up. Is it really a chicken? Is it really wearing trousers? Why do the trousers appear to be […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

Autumn is Here: Grab Your Mattock, People!

September. The darker nights are drawing in, casseroles will soon be making a triumphant return to our kitchen tables, and mattocks are having a moment. That’s right, mattocks. The ultimate Autumn tool for farmers everywhere. But what are these mysterious tools, and why have they been so important to agriculture through the ages? What’s the […]

Life of the People

Written by Chip Colquhoun, storyteller and author Last summer I was invited to the MERL to take part in a workshop for the Museum of the Intangible project, and was asked to produce a creative response to the collections. This project is all about exploring the potential of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and creative and […]

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 […]

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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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