51 Voices: Be Nice, Say Hello, Share the Space

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 […]

Mapping the lantern slides

Dr Katrina Navickas is the 2020/21 Open Spaces Society Fellow at The MERL. In this blog, Katrina outlines her work and research in mapping the locations of over 1,000 lantern slides in the Open Spaces Society collection. The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 to campaign for and preserve commons, footpaths and open spaces […]

Updates on COVID-19

Latest update: 2nd September 2021 From Tuesday the 7th September, we are introducing several changes at The MERL which will make it easier for you to visit the museum in a more relaxed way. At the same time, we are maintaining several of our health and safety measures from the last year, so that everybody […]

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 […]

  • 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

    Book now