Why do we give each other socks? And other important questions

Written by Nicola Minney. Socks have long been a staple of Christmas gift giving. Where there’s a Christmas tree, there’s a great pair of socks waiting patiently beneath. Luckily, The MERL collection is filled with socks, which – thankfully – are all still paired. In time for the festive season, join us to celebrate this […]

Naming places: how children make the world their own

Written by Dr Jeremy Burchardt, Department of History, University of Reading Place-name (toponym) research has a long and distinguished tradition in English historical scholarship, associated with the work of luminaries such as Margaret Gelling, Harry Thorpe and the English Place Name Society. Admittedly, there is an even longer tradition of bogus place-name derivations–just the other […]

Superstitious in the countryside

Written by Nicola Minney. An active part in the make-up of rural England’s pysche has always been a degree of superstition. In agricultural communities, people’s lives critically depended on bountiful harvests and healthy livestock, as they still do, so the people would be vigilant for any and all signs of looming disaster, of portents and […]

Discovering The Lost Museum

At The MERL, we are delighted to work on creative projects and displays in collaboration with a number of community partners from Reading and further afield. If you visit the Museum at the moment, you will find one such display in The Nook: a community case entitled The Lost Museum, created by the community of […]

Playtime during the pandemic

In this post, our curator, Dr Ollie Douglas, explores his own rural upbringing and introduces new research by colleagues at the University of Reading interested in childhood, outdoor access, the countryside, and the current pandemic. He invites us to contribute towards a survey linked to how children have responded to coronavirus by incorporating health-related narratives […]

The MERL receives Culture Recovery Fund grant

Press release: The MERL receives financial boost for digital engagement and programmes for local communities 12th October (13:00pm) The Museum of English Rural Life has been awarded £74,248 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable […]

Hidden Nature: The MERL’s Lockdown Garden

Every Wednesday, The MERL’s group of gardening volunteers – the Wednesday Wheelbarrows – meet in the Museum garden. Lovingly and expertly, they tend to our many vegetable plots, raised beds, herb garden, and more, and support gardening projects undertaken by the Museum’s community groups, University students, and the under 5s of our Friday Fledglings. After […]

Breaking the Colour Bar

To tie in with our new online exhibition and most recent ‘object-handling at home’ blog, in this post Tamisan Latherow introduces us to the little-known and extraordinary story of one particular land girl. Amelia King was of Afro-Caribbean ancestry and her wartime story is one that highlights the racism faced by people of colour in mid-twentieth […]

Object-handling at home – Women’s Land Army shoes

In this post our curator, Ollie Douglas, introduces us to explore shoes issued to members of the Women’s Land Army during the Second World War and invites us to visit our new online ‘Land Girls’ exhibition. He describes some simple, hands-on (and ‘feet-in’) ways for us to learn about the footwear given to ‘land girls’, encouraging us to think about […]

‘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 […]

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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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