Sister Lavinia

Photograph showing interior of Lavinia Smith's Downside House taken by Henry Owen Vaughan (MERL P DX2049 PH5_43)

Henry Owen Vaughan, Photographs of Miss Smith’s Museum, 1937–1943 These photographs were taken in the village of East Hendred during the late-1930s and early-1940s by the Reading-based amateur photographer Henry Owen Vaughan. They show a private home and museum at Downside House, which belonged to Lavinia Smith, sometimes referred to as ‘Miss Lavinia’ or ‘Sister […]

Clockwork Tractor

Ferguson, Demonstration model, circa 1949–1951 (MERL 2014/16/1-8)

Ferguson, Demonstration model, circa 1949–1951 This model tractor was designed to demonstrate how the innovative three-point linkage technology on Ferguson tractors worked. This unique mechanism featured on the iconic TE-20 tractor or ‘little grey Fergie’ and made for a vehicle that was more stable and adaptable. Models like this enabled Ferguson agents, technicians, and distributors […]

Machinery 100 Years Ago

At the Royal Agricultural Show in Cambridge in 1951 people flocked to see the Museum’s display of Machinery 100 Years Ago. This old equipment sat only metres away from the very machines that threatened its existence. The countryside was steeped in history yet desperately in need of modernisation.


In its early years the Museum of English Rural Life toured the nation’s many country shows, picking up objects from farmers and the public. This type of plough is called a turn wrest and is commonly found in Kent, where we collected it in 1955. We put it on display at the Shillingford country fair […]

Ferguson Tractor

A black and white photograph of a Ferguson tractor sitting in the old museum galleries on Whiteknights campus, University of Reading.

This Ferguson Tractor was found a mess on a scrapheap by a retired teacher at RycoteWood College. He enlisted the help of students at the college to lovingly repair and restore the tractor to working condition and was afterwards bought by the Museum with the help of the Science Museum. The tractor was probably manufactured […]

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    We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to The MERL galleries from Tuesday 18th May.

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    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road


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